Kensho Watanabe

© Irina Belashov

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 held the position of Assistant Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra from 2016 to 2019. During this time, he made his critically acclaimed subscription debut with the Orchestra and pianist, Daniil Trifonov, taking over from his mentor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He would continue 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. Watanabe has previously been an inaugural conducting fellow of the Curtis Institute of Music from 2013 to 2015, under the mentorship of Nézet-Séguin.

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 Métropolitain de Montréal.

Upcoming highlights include Kensho’s returns to the Sarasota Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony as well as the Philadelphia Orchestra for subscription concerts in the 2021-22 season. Notable debuts this season include the Charlotte Symphony, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, and Sarasota Orchestra, as well as Kensho’s Polish debut with the Szczecin Philharmonic, and his Suntory Hall debut with the Tokyo Philharmonic conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

Equally at home in both symphonic and operatic repertoire, Mr. 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 Mr. Nézet-Séguin on a new production of Strauss’s Elektra at the Opéra de Montréal.

An accomplished violinist, Mr. 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. Cognizant of the importance of the training and development of young musicians, he has previously served on the staff of the Greenwood Music Camp, as the Orchestra conductor.

Mr. Watanabe is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with distinguished conducting pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. Additionally, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Yale College, where he studied molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.