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. He has been Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal since September 2006 where his contract has been extended until 2020. In September 2013, he became Artistic Advisor and Principal Guest Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. In September 2015, he took up the position of General Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera and Chief Conductor of the Philharmonic State Orchestra. With his Hamburg orchestra he went on South America Tour in the beginning of season 2016/17, with concerts e.g. in Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo and Bogotá. On 13 January 2017 Kent Nagano conducted the world premiere of a new oratorio by Jörg Widmann as the very first concert with the Philharmonic State Orchestra in the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg on the occasion of the inauguration festivities of the new hall. Since then the traditional Philharmonic Concerts take place in the new Elbphilharmonie. In February 2017 he stood at the rostrum of the orchestra for the premiere of Alban Berg’s “Lulu”. Kent Nagano started his first season with the premiere of Berlioz‘ “Les Troyens”, the world premiere of Toshio Hosokawas “Stilles Meer” followed in January 2016. Messiaen’s symphony “Turangalîla” choreographed by John Neumeier was premiered in early July 2016.
With the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal Kent Nagano went on US tour in March 2016. A milestone at the helm of the OSM was the inauguration of the orchestra’s new concert hall “La Maison Symphonique” in September 2011. Highlights with the orchestra include the complete cycles of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies, Schoenberg's “Gurrelieder”, concert versions of Wagner's “Tannhäuser”, “Tristan und Isolde”, “Das Rheingold”, Honegger’s “Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher”, Messiaen's “Saint François d'Assise”, and concert series featuring the works of Dutilleux (2010-11) and Boulez (2011-12). Nagano has taken the orchestra on a coast-to-coast tour of Canada and also to tours to Japan, South Korea, Europe and South America. In October 2014 they embarked on their second tour to Japan. Their recordings together include Mahler’s “Orchestral Songs” with Christian Gerhaher, Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 and a complete recording of all the Symphonies by Beethoven of which the album “Ideals of the French Revolution” with Symphony No. 5 won a Juno award. In March 2015 Kent Nagano conducted the North American Premiere of “L’Aiglon”, a rare opera of Honegger and Ibert. This production was recorded and released by Decca and has won an ECHO Klassik 2016. “Danse Macabre” followed as second production with Decca, with works by Dukas, Dvořák, Mussorgsky, Balakirev, Saint-Saens and Ives in October 2016.
At the Bayerische Staatsoper, where he was General Music Director from 2006 to 2013, Kent Nagano commissioned new operas such as “Babylon” by Jörg Widmann, Das “Gehege” by Wolfgang Rihm and “Alice in Wonderland” by Unsuk Chin. New productions have included Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” and “Khovanshchina”, “Idomeneo”, “Eugene Onegin”, “Ariadne auf Naxos” and “Die Schweigsame Frau”, “Les Dialogues des Carmélites”, “St François d’Assise”, “Wozzeck”, George Benjamin’s “Written on Skin” and “Der Ring des Nibelungen”. With the Bayerisches Staatsorchester Nagano has toured throughout Europe and in Japan and together they have recorded Bruckner Symphonies No. 4, 7 and 8. In January 2014, Kent Nagano returned to the Bayerische Staatsoper to conduct a revival of Widmann’s “Babylon”.
As a much sought after guest conductor, Nagano has worked with most of the world’s finest orchestras, just as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonics, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, WDR Symphony Orchestra, Concerto Köln, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rom and at Wiener Festwochen. Since 2014 he is forming his own festival as part of the AUDI Sommerkonzerte, called Vorsprung-Festival. He has an ongoing relationship with Sony Classical and has also recorded for Erato, Teldec, Pentatone and Deutsche Grammophon as well as Harmonia Mundi, winning Grammy awards for his recordings of Busoni’s “Doktor Faust” with Opéra National de Lyon, “Peter and the Wolf” with the Russian National Orchestra and Saariaho’s “L’amour de Loin” with the Deutsches Symphonieorchester Berlin.
A very important period in Nagano’s career was his time as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, from 2000-2006. He performed Schönberg’s “Moses und Aron” with the orchestra (in collaboration with Los Angeles Opera), and took them to the Salzburg Festival to perform both Zemlinsky’s “Der König Kandaules” and Schreker’s “Die Gezeichneten”, as well as to the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden with “Parsifal” and “Lohengrin” in productions by Nikolaus Lehnhoff. Recordings with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin for Harmonia Mundi include repertoire as diverse as Bernstein’s Mass, Bruckner’s Symphonies Nos. 3 & 6, Beethoven’s “Christus am Ölberge”, Wolf Lieder, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Schönberg’s “Die Jakobsleiter” and “Friede auf Erden”, as well as Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 and Schönberg’s “Variationen für Orchester” Op. 31. In June 2006, at the end of his tenure with the orchestra, Kent Nagano was given the title Honorary Conductor by members of the orchestra, only the second recipient of this honour in their 60-year history. To this day he has a close friendship to the orchestra.
Kent Nagano became the first Music Director of Los Angeles Opera in 2003 having already held the position of Principal Conductor for two years. His work in other opera houses has included Shostakovich’s “The Nose” (Staatsoper Berlin), Rimsky Korsakov’s “The Golden Cockerel” (Châtelet, Paris), Hindemith’s “Cardillac” (Opéra national de Paris), “Dialogues des Carmélites” (Metropolitan Opera) and at the Salzburg Festival “Les Contes d’Hoffmann”, Zemlinsky’s “Der Koenig Kandaules”, Schreker’s “Die Gezeichneten” and the world premiere of Saariaho’s “L’amour de loin”. Other world premieres include Bernstein’s “A White House Cantata” and operas by Peter Eötvös (“Three Sisters”), and John Adams (“The Death of Klinghoffer” and “El Niño”).
Born in California, Nagano maintains close connections with his home state and was Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra from 1978-2008. 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 Opéra National de Lyon (1988-1998) and Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra (1991-2000).