Emerging onto the international stage, Kensho Watanabe is fast becoming one of the most exciting and versatile young conductors to come out of the United States. Recently recognized as a recipient of a Career Assistance Award by the Solti Foundation U.S, Kensho will make his Metropolitan Opera debut next season, conducting Kevin Puts’ The Hours. Assistant Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra from 2016 to 2019, Kensho made his critically acclaimed subscription debut with the Orchestra and pianist, Daniil Trifonov, taking over from his mentor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He would continue on to conduct four subscription concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2019, in addition to debuts at the Bravo! Vail Festival and numerous concerts at the Mann and Saratoga Performing Arts Centres.
Recent highlights include Kensho’s debuts with the London Philharmonic and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestras, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Rhode Island Philharmonic as well as his Finnish debut with the Jyväskylä Sinfonia. Kensho has also enjoyed collaborations with the Houston Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Brussels Philharmonic and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, and the Orchestre Metropolitain in Montreal.
Equally at home in both symphonic and operatic repertoire, Watanabe has led numerous operas with the Curtis Opera Theatre, most recently Puccini’s La rondine in 2017 and La bohème in 2015. Additionally, he served as assistant conductor to Yannick Nézet-Séguin on a new production of Strauss’ Elektra at Montréal Opera. This season, Watanabe will conduct Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro at the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy.
Watanabe has previously been the inaugural conducting fellow of the Curtis Institute of Music from 2013 to 2015, under the mentorship of Nézet-Séguin. An accomplished violinist, Watanabe received his master of music degree from the Yale School of Music and served as a substitute violinist in The Philadelphia Orchestra from 2012 to 2016.