Russian National Orchestra

Kent Nagano

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Kent Nagano

Kent Nagano is renowned for interpretations of clarity, elegance and intelligence. He is equally at home in music of the classical, romantic and contemporary eras, introducing concert and opera audiences throughout the world to new and rediscovered music and offering fresh insights into established repertoire. In September 2006 he succeeded Zubin Mehta as Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper and became Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

Born in California, he maintains close connections with his home state and has been Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra since 1978. His early professional years were spent in Boston, working in the opera house and as assistant conductor to Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He played a key role in the world premiere of Messiaen's opera Saint François d'Assise at the request of the composer, who became a mentor and bequeathed his piano to the conductor. Nagano's success in America led to European appointments: Music Director of the Opéra National de Lyon (1988-1998), Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra (1991-2000) and Associate Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. World premieres from these years include Bernstein's A White House Cantata and operas by Peter Eötvös (Three Sisters), John Adams (The Death of Klinghoffer and El Niño) and Saariaho's L'amour de loin at the Salzburg Festival.

A new and important phase of Nagano's career opened when he became Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in 2000. He has become a prominent figure in a new wave of artistic thinking in Germany, opening minds to inventive, confrontational programming. With the orchestra, he has performed Schönberg's Moses und Aron (in collaboration with Los Angeles Opera), and he took them to the Salzburg Festival to perform both Zemlinsky's Der König Kandaules and Schreker's Die Gezeichneten. Recent DSO recordings for Harmonia Mundi include repertoire as diverse as Bernstein's Mass, Bruckner's Third and Sixth Symphonies, Beethoven's Christus am Ölberge, Mahler's Eighth Symphony and Schönberg's Die Jakobsleiter. In June 2006, at the end of his tenure with the orchestra, he was given the title Honorary Conductor by members of the orchestra, only the second recipient of this honour in their 60-year history.

Kent Nagano became the first Music Director of Los Angeles Opera in 2003, having already held the position of Principal Conductor for two years. Productions there ranged from a series of Mozart operas, Idomeneo, Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro, to Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier and Die Frau ohne Schatten, Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Tosca and Wagner's Lohengrin and Parsifal. His work in other opera houses in recent seasons has included Shostakovich's The Nose (Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin), Rimsky Korsakov's The Golden Cockerel (Châtelet, Paris), Britten's Billy Budd (Bayerische Staatsoper) and Hindemith's Cardillac (Opéra National de Paris).

As a much sought-after guest conductor, he has worked with most of the world's finest orchestras, including the Vienna, Berlin and New York Philharmonic Orchestras and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded for Erato, Teldec, Pentatone and Deutsche Grammophon as well as Harmonia Mundi, winning a Grammy award for his recordings of Busoni's Doktor Faust with Opéra National de Lyon. His recording of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and Jean-Pascal Beintus' Wolf Tracks with the Russian National Orchestra for Pentatone was the winner of a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children. It features Sophia Loren narrating Peter and the Wolf, and a new piece, Wolf Tracks, narrated by Bill Clinton and introductory remarks provided by Mikhail Gorbachev. He has also recorded the original versions of Mahler's Das Klagende Lied and Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, and introduced the public to rediscovered works by Britten including the Double Concerto.

Kent Nagano's Website