Internationally praised for both her technical and lyrical command of the music, Karina Canellakis is the winner of the 2016 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award and has received glowing critical endorsements of her performances since first making headlines in 2014 filling in last-minute for Jaap van Zweden with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Shostakovich’s 8th symphony. She made her European conducting debut last June with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe at the Styriarte Festival in Graz, Austria, replacing the late Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and has been re-invited to Graz this coming June to conduct his orchestra, Concentus Musicus Wien, in four symphonies of a Beethoven Cycle. She served for two seasons as Assistant Conductor of the Dallas Symphony, during which time she conducted over 60 performances with the orchestra, and concluded her tenure at the end of the 2015/16 season.
Highlights of the 2016/17 season feature her European debuts with the Swedish Radio Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, Trondheim, Kristiansand and Mälmo symphony orchestras, as well as North American debuts including the Toronto, Vancouver, and Milwaukee symphony orchestras. She will conduct opera projects including the world premiere of David Lang’s new opera The Loser at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Peter Maxwell Davies’ new opera The Hogboon with the Luxembourg Philharmonic, and Verdi’s Requiem at the Zurich Opera. In addition, she has been re-invited to conduct subscription programs with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony and North Carolina Symphony.
In 2015/16, Ms. Canellakis made debuts with the Danish National Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and conducts a fully staged production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with the Curtis Opera Theatre and Curtis Symphony Orchestra at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. In summer 2016, she debuts with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival in New York leading the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Festival della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca, Italy, and the Grand Teton Music Festival. She has also guest conducted the symphony orchestras of Houston and Colorado, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Lukes’, Chautaqua Festival Orchestra and the Grant Park Festival Orchestra at Millenium Park in Chicago.
Already known to many in the classical music world for her virtuoso violin playing, Ms. Canellakis was initially encouraged to pursue conducting by her mentor Sir Simon Rattle while she was playing regularly in the Berlin Philharmonic for two years as a member of their Orchester-Akademie. In addition to appearing frequently as soloist with various North American orchestras, she subsequently played regularly in the Chicago Symphony for over three years, and appeared on several occasions as guest concertmaster of the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway. She spent many summers performing at the Marlboro Music Festival, and her approach to conducting is firmly rooted in her detailed and dedicated experience as a chamber musician. She plays a 1782 Mantegazza violin on generous loan to her from a private patron.
Ms. Canellakis is a recipient of a 2015 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, was the winner of the 2013 Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship, and was a conducting fellow at the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Music Center for the summer of 2014.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in violin from the Curtis Institute of Music and a Master’s degree in orchestral conducting from The Juilliard School, where she was the recipient of the Charles Schiff Award for Excellence in Orchestral Conducting, the American Conductors Award, and the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship. In addition to Rattle and Zweden, her most prominent mentors are Alan Gilbert and Fabio Luisi.
Karina Canellakis was born and raised in New York City, where she is currently based. She speaks French, German and Italian, and is equally at home performing all genres of the repertoire.