Kazem Abdullah

A vibrant, versatile and compelling presence on the podium, American conductor Kazem Abdullah currently lives in Nürnberg, Germany. He was Generalmusikdirektor (Music and Artistic Director) 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 made appearances with the New World Symphony, the Colours for Music Festival in Charleston South Carolina, the Brandenburgsiches Staatsorchester Frankfurt, Orchester Südwestfallen, and the Jacksonville Symphony. In addition to his symphony engagements, he conducted an opera Gala for the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, conducted the American premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s opera Brokeback Mountain with the New York City Opera, and conducted Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda for Cape Town Opera. Upcoming performances include appearances with the Chautauqua Symphony, Residentie Orkest in the Hague, the Cincinnati Opera and Michigan Opera Theater.

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 recent orchestral credits are the St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra, Nürnburger 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, and Cincinnati Symphony.

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 with clarinet and piano. He studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and University of Southern California. He currently lives in Nürnberg, Germany.

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