Born in 1951 in Berkeley, California, Kent Nagano studied at the University of California in Santa Cruz and San Francisco State University, gaining practical experience at San Francisco Opera. He was named Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in 1978 and assisted Seiji Ozawa in the world premiere of Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise in Paris in 1983. His international breakthrough came in 1984 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, for which he received the Seaver/National Endowment for the Arts Conductors Award. Nagano was Music Director of the Opéra de Lyon from 1988 to 1998 and served as Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra from 1991 to 2000 and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin from 2000 to 2006. He then took over as Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (2006-20) and General Music Director of the Bavarian Staatsoper (2006-13). Since 2015, he has held the same position at the Hamburg Staatsoper, where he will conclude his tenure with the 2024-25 season. During his final season there, he will conduct new productions of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Unsuk Chin’s The Dark Side of the Moon, and Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier’s The Illusions of William Mallory. Nagano has guest conducted many major orchestras and appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, La Scala in Milan, the Berlin Staatsoper, and the Salzburg Festival. Last November, he led the Bavarian State Orchestra in the world premiere of Unsuk Chin’s orchestral work Operascope. Kent Nagano was appointed Honorary Conductor of Concerto Köln in 2019; with this ensemble and the Dresden Festival Orchestra, he is conducting the historically informed project “Wagner Readings.” His recording of Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin received a Grammy Award. His book Expect the Unexpected, which makes the case for the relevance of classical music, appeared in 2014; 10 Lessons of My Life, a book about life-changing encounters, followed in 2021.

Lucerne Festival debut on 1 September 1998 with the Hallé Orchestra and the Arnold Schönberg Chor in Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise.

June 2024