Karina Canellakis

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Karina Canellakis (born 23 August 1981[1]) is an American conductor and violinist.


Born in New York City, of Greek and Russian background,[2] Canellakis grew up in a family of musicians. Her parents met as music students at the Juilliard School. Her father Martin became a conductor,[2] and her mother Sheryl became a pianist.[3] She studied violin as a youth, and her younger brother Nicholas studied cello.[4] She continued formal music studies at the Curtis Institute, where her teachers included Ida Kavafian, and graduated from Curtis in 2004.[5][6] As a violinist, she played as a substitute in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and was a guest leader with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.[7]

From 2005 to 2007, Canellakis was a violinist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchester-Akademie. Whilst in Berlin, Simon Rattle encouraged her growing interest in conducting. She formally studied conducting at the Juilliard School from 2011 to 2013, where her teachers included Alan Gilbert. She also studied conducting with Fabio Luisi, at the Pacific Music Festival.[5] In 2013, she was the winner of the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship.[8] From 2014 to 2016, she was the assistant conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Early in her career in the Dallas post, in October 2014, she stood in as an emergency substitute for Jaap van Zweden with the Symphony No 8 of Shostakovich, without rehearsal.[1] Her work in contemporary music has included performing with and conducting the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE),[9] and conducting the premiere of David Lang's chamber opera The Loser in September 2016.[10]

Canellakis made her European conducting debut in 2015 with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as an emergency substitute for Nikolaus Harnoncourt.[11] In 2016, she won the Georg Solti Conducting Award.[6] Her conducting debut at The Proms in September 2017 was also her debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC SO).[12] Also in September 2017, Canellakis made her first guest-conducting appearance with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSO Berlin).[13]

In March 2018, Canellakis guest-conducted the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest (RFO), with concerts in Utrecht and Amsterdam.[14] On the basis of this series of concerts, in May 2018, the RFO announced the appointment of Canellakis as its next chief conductor, effective with the 2019-2020 season, with an initial contract of 4 years.[15] This appointment marks Canellakis' first orchestral post. She is the first female conductor to be named chief conductor of the RFO, and the first female conductor to be named chief conductor of any Dutch orchestra.[15] In December 2018, Canellakis conducted the annual Nobel Prize concert with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the first female conductor to do so.[16] In April 2019, the RSO Berlin announced the appointment of Canellakis as its next principal guest conductor, the first female conductor ever named to the post, effective with the 2019-2020 season.[17] On 19 July 2019, Canellakis became the first female conductor ever to conduct the First Night of The Proms, at the Royal Albert Hall (London).[18]


  1. ^ a b Michael Cooper (9 May 2018). "After a Last-Minute Conducting Triumph, Her Own Orchestra". New York Times. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b Robert Sherman (28 March 1982). "Music: Look At New Baton Of The Symphony". New York Times. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  3. ^ Bill Glauber (9 November 2017). "Rising star Karina Canellakis to conduct a Milwaukee Symphony searching for music director". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  4. ^ Tod Westlake (26 January 2017). "Symphonic Siblings Play with the Albany Symphony". Hudson Valley Magazine. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b Diana Burgwyn (Fall 2016). "Conducting Energy" (PDF). Overtones. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b Toby Deller (15 February 2017). "Meet the Maestro: Karina Canellakis". Classical Music Magazine. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  7. ^ Geraldine Freeman (15 February 2017). "Canellakis will be ASO guest conductor". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  8. ^ Zachary Woolfe (20 December 2013). "Missing from Podiums: Women". New York Times. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  9. ^ Mark Swed (26 January 2015). "Make this L.A. Chamber Orchestra guest conductor feel at home". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  10. ^ Anthony Tommasini (9 September 2016). "Review: In This One-Man Opera, It's All in His Head". New York Times. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  11. ^ Gabriela Kägi (23 August 2015). "Are you kidding? – Eine junge Dirigentin vertritt Harnoncourt". Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  12. ^ Andrew Clements (6 September 2017). "BBCSO/Canellakis review – Mazzoli and Denk find their messages blurred". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  13. ^ Michael Baumgartl (3 September 2017). "Großartige Sinfonie in der Reithalle". Schweriner Volkszeitung. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  14. ^ Frits van der Waa (18 March 2018). "De Amerikaanse Karina Canellakis laat zien en horen dat ze haar mannetje staat als dirigent". De Volksrant. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Karina Canellakis nieuwe chef-dirigent Radio Filharmonisch Orkest" (Press release). Radio Filharmonisch Orkest. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  16. ^ Malin Hansson (9 December 2018). "Nobelkonserten hyllade nobelprisvinnarna under lördagen". Expressen. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  17. ^ Volker Michael (2 April 2019). "Wie I'm Wirbelwind". Deutschlandfunk Kultur. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  18. ^ Savage, Mark (19 July 2019). "Karina Canellakis makes Proms history". BBC News. Retrieved 20 July 2019.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Markus Stenz
Chief Conductor, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest
Succeeded by