Kazem Abdullah

Kazem Abdullah works internationally and excels at reaching newer and diverse audiences, conducting concerts and operas in a wide variety of styles and formats.

Abdullah opened this season leading a new production of Anthony Davis’ X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X at the Metropolitan Opera, a production the New York Times called “an American classic.” Abdullah continues his  season with debuts with the Naples Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, and North Carolina Symphony and return engagements with the Indianapolis Symphony and the Seattle Opera.

Abdullah has delivered resonant performances of masterworks new and old, and continues to champion American composers and artists while pursuing innovative, community-based concert design. Committed to expanding the American repertoire, Kazem has led the premieres of several significant American operatic works including Rhiannon Gidden’s Omar, Gregory Spears Castor and Patience, and additional works by John Luther Adams, Caroline Shaw, Anthony Davis, George Lewis, Dai Fujikura, and Daniel Bernard Roumain.

On the podium, Abdullah is recognized by orchestras and audiences alike for his impressive conducting technique, thoughtful interpretations, innovative concert experiences and engaging presence. Among his recent orchestral credits are the Oregon, Indianapolis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Seattle and Cincinnati symphony orchestras. In addition to his symphony engagements, he recently conducted an opera Gala for the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the American premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s opera Brokeback Mountain, Tosca for Seattle Opera, and Hänsel und Gretel for Cape Town Opera.

Abdullah currently lives in Nürnberg, Germany, and was the Generalmusikdirektor in Aachen, Germany, from 2012 to 2017. During his tenure in Aachen, in addition to reaching newer and diverse audiences through innovative programming, moving out of the concert hall, and experimenting with juxtapositions of styles in non-traditional concert formats, he also conducted over 25 operas. He collaborated with musicians such as Johannes Moser, Lise de la Salle, Angela Gheorghiu, Augustin Haedelich, and Midori.

Prior to 2012, Abdullah led the Orquestra de São Paulo on its third United States coast-to-coast tour and the New World Symphony at the Ives In-Context Festival by special invitation from Michael Tilson Thomas. He also conducted the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group. He was also an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, where he assisted and prepared over twenty operas, including Der Ring des Nibelungen, Wozzeck, and Lulu. Abdullah has also guest conducted at companies such as the Atlanta Opera, Portland Opera, Detroit Opera,Opéra national de Lorraine and the Théâtre du Châtelet de Paris. Abdullah made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009, conducting Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice.

Trained as a clarinetist, Abdullah has performed extensively as an orchestral musician, chamber musician, and soloist. He spent two seasons as a member of the New World Symphony and performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as the chamber ensembles Trio Wanderer and the Auryn Quartet.

A dedicated educator, Abdullah has worked with student orchestras at the Interlochen Arts Center, the Oklahoma Arts Institute, die Höchschule für Musik Cologne Standort Aachen, the Juilliard School, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music Germany, and the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He was awarded the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award by his alma mater, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where he worked with the students there and spoke at their commencement in 2015.

"The standout performance of the entire season"
The Florida Times - Union, 21. May 2018