A vibrant, versatile and compelling presence on the podium, American conductor Kazem Abdullah is one of the most-watched up-and-coming talents on the international stage today. Was Generalmusikdirektor of the City of Aachen, Germany from 2012 to 2017. His predecessors in this tradition-rich post include Fritz Busch, Herbert von Karajan and Wolfgang Sawallisch.
In the 2017-18 season Mr. Abdullah will make appearances with the New World Symphony, the Colours for Music Festival in Charleston South Carolina, the Brandenburgsiches Staatsorchester, Orchester Südwestfallen, and the Jacksonville Symphony. In addition to his symphony engagements, he will conduct an opera Gala in the Robecco Festival in the Concertgebouw, and will also conduct the American premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s opera Brokeback Mountain with the New York City Opera.
A passionate advocate of new music as well as established repertoire, Mr. Abdullah continues to develop relationships with national and international orchestras and opera houses. Among his orchestral credits are the St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Kammerphilharmonie, Nürnburg Philharmoniker, Staatskapelle Weimar, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, Oregon Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, Huntsville Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Napa Valley Symphony, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Chicago, Sinfonietta and National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa. During the 2013-14 season, Mr. Abdullah guest conducted the Pasadena Symphony, Augsburg Philharmoniker, Orkest Zuidnederland, Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy and Opera national de Lorraine.
Of special note are three acclaimed orchestral engagements from the 2009-10 season: leading the Orquestra de São Paulo, one of Brazil’s most celebrated classical music ensembles, on its third United States coast-to-coast tour, conducting the New World Symphony’s 2009 Ives In-Context Festival by special invitation from Michael Tilson Thomas, and substituting on very short notice to conduct the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in Performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group. In the opera arena, Mr. Abdullah has guest conducted such esteemed companies as the Atlanta Opera, where he conducted Così fan tutte, and the Théâtre du Châtelet de Paris, where he led sold-out performances of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha. Mr. Abdullah made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 conducting Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. The New York Times lauded this first performance at the Metropolitan Opera as “a confident performance, impressively responsive to the singers during their long stretches of orchestra-accompanied recitative.”
Born in Indiana, Mr. Abdullah began his music studies at the age of 10. He graduated from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with a bachelor of music degree in clarinet performance. He then studied at the University of Southern California before joining the New World Symphony as a Clarinet Fellow under Michael Tilson Thomas for two Seasons.