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Conductor

Karina Canellakis

Headshot of Karina Canellakis wearing a black collared shirt.

About

Internationally acclaimed for her emotionally-charged performances, technical command, and interpretive depth, Karina Canellakis has become one of the most in-demand conductors of her generation. She is the chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and the principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

This season, Canellakis was the featured artist-in-residence at Vienna’s famed Musikverein, conducting four different orchestras: the Wiener Symphoniker, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, London Philharmonic, and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. The four programs presented a range of iconic repertoire including Shostakovich’s powerful Symphony No. 8, Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.

Canellakis’ 2023-24 guest engagements include her debut with the New York Philharmonic, as well as return engagements with the Boston Symphony and Cleveland orchestras, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, and NDR Elbphilharmonie. Following a highly successful tour of Germany with the London Philharmonic and Daniil Trifonov, Canellakis again led the orchestra to Munich, Athens and Vienna. She presented exciting contemporary pieces and commissions, as well as well-known masterpieces at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. Particular highlights included a concert performance of Wagner’s Siegfried as part of the prestigious Zaterdag Matinee series.

After the great successes of Káťa Kabanová and The Cunning Little Vixen with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in previous seasons, Canellakis continued her series of Janáček operas with The Makropulos Case. She also conducted Der Rosenkavalier for Santa Fe Opera in the summer of 2024. Her concert performances of acts of Wagner’s Die Walküre, Tristan und Isolde, and Siegfried were met with tremendous critical praise, and she has conducted critically-acclaimed productions of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin; Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte, and Le nozze di Figaro; David Lang’s the loser; and Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Hogboon.

April 2023 saw the start of a multi-album collaboration between Canellakis, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, and Pentatone with their debut release of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and Four Orchestral Pieces. Canellakis and the RFO’s recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Alice Sara Ott was also featured for the launch of Apple Classical.

She was the first woman to conduct the First Night of the BBC Proms in London in 2019 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and returned to the Proms in 2022. She was also the first woman to ever conduct the Nobel Prize concert with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in 2018.

Already known to many in the classical music world for her virtuoso violin playing, Canellakis was initially encouraged to pursue conducting by Sir Simon Rattle while she was playing regularly in the Berlin Philharmonic for two years as a member of its Orchester-Akademie. She performed for many years as a soloist, guest leader, and chamber musician, spending her summers at the Marlboro Music Festival, until conducting eventually became her focus. Canellakis was born and raised in New York City.

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