With mind and feeling
She is well on her way to conquering the world’s concert stages: The New York conductor Karina Canellakis presents herself as an artist in focus. Karina Canellakis proved that she had extraordinary talent and strong nerves when she stepped in for Nikolaus Harnoncourt at short notice in 2015.
Again and again, she has proven herself in the spearhead position. She was the first woman invited to conduct the Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm and was the first female conductor to be entrusted with the First Night of the Proms in London. Finally, the Singverein of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna also experienced Karina Canellakis as the first woman to conduct the podium. When she performed Beethoven’s Ninth with the Wiener Symphoniker on Beethoven Day in June 2021 – a significant media event against the backdrop of Belvedere Palace – many experienced choir members were thrilled at how competence and specific sensitivity merged into an unusually beautiful, nuanced interpretation.
Since winning the Sir Georg Solti Award in 2016, New York City-born Karina Canellakis has positioned herself equally in the New and Old Worlds. She has worked with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra; his debut with the New York Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is already scheduled. In her early forties, the daughter of a conductor and a pianist can look back on an impressive career with a solid violin-playing foundation. Hilary Hahn was the idol of her childhood. However, she had already completed a conducting course at twelve and was fascinated by the scores. After completing her studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, she joined the orchestra, was a member of the Orchestra Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker for two years and gained experience as a soloist, guest concertmaster and chamber musician. Then, encouraged by her mentor Sir Simon Rattle, she dared to take the step to the conductor’s podium.
Karina Canellakis proved that she had extraordinary talent and strong nerves when she stepped in at short notice for Nikolaus Harnoncourt in the summer of 2015. After a personal briefing by the master, who generously left the score he had set up to the young colleague for study, the newcomer celebrated her European debut: with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and a unique Dvořák programme, which, in the “Nikoloic” way, did not focus on the popular. Since then, Canellakis, the child of an immigrant family with Greek-Russian roots, has made a lasting name in the Old World. The following year she was allowed to replace the recently deceased Nikolaus Harnoncourt again, this time as part of the Beethoven cycle with the Concentus Musicus, with which she performed Symphonies 1 and 8 as well as 2 and 7.
In the meantime, the New Yorker has put down roots in Europe. She lives in Amsterdam with her German husband. Since 2019 she has been chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra, with whom she also develops staged opera productions. She is also the principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin.
With the first two ensembles, she will also be a guest at the Musikverein next season as an artist in focus. Canellakis has already got to know the Golden Hall as a violinist. Now, as a conductor, she will perform five concerts with four different programs, in which, in addition to Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms, works of the Second Viennese School and Modernism will find their due place. The Wiener Symphoniker and the ORF RSO Vienna will also be there again. And the Singverein can look forward to the next meeting – this time at Janáček’s “Glagolitic Mass”.
Text by Monika Mertl.
© Dieter Nagl
Christian Thielemann, Vienna and the Musikverein – a success story through and through. It will be updated in 2023/24. The Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna presents a Christian Thielemann cycle again this season.
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