Principal Conductor, Orquesta Sinfonica Portuguesa
Music Director, Berkeley Symphony
Acclaimed Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro is Principal Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica Portuguesa and Teatro Sao Carlos in Lisbon. From 2009 to 2018 she was Music Director of Berkeley Symphony, succeeding Kent Nagano as only the third music director in the 40-year history of the orchestra. She also currently serves as official guest conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra.
Recent and future guest conducting highlights including engagements with the BBC Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (whom she conducted at the Nobel Prize Ceremony in December 2017), Swedish Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and the BBC Philharmonic. In Autumn 2018 she will conduct Bernstein’s “It’s a Wonderful Town” with the Royal Danish National Opera and later next season she will conduct a new production of “Carmen” at the Royal Stockholm Opera.
She continues to be sought after for contemporary programmes and in recent years she made her debut at the English National Opera conducting the world stage premiere of John Adams’ “The Gospel According to the Other Mary”. In 2016 she conducted a production of “La Passion de Simone” at the Ojai Festival which was highly acclaimed, and a production of Van der Aa’s “Book of Disquiet” with the London Sinfonietta. Joana also works regularly with singer/song-writer Rufus Wainwright.
Elsewhere Joana has previously conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Orchestra de Bretagne, Norrköping Symphony, Norrlands Opera Orchestra, Residentie Orkest/Hague, Prague Philharmonia, Malmo Symphony, National Orchestra of Spain and the Orchestra Sinfonica del Teatro la Fenice at the Venice Biennale, as well as the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Macau Chamber Orchestra and Beijing Orchestra at the International Music Festival of Macau. In the Americas, she has led the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony and São Paulo State Symphony.
In 2010, Carneiro led performances of Peter Sellars’s stagings of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms at the Sydney Festival, which won Australia’s Helpmann Award for Best Symphony Orchestra Concert in 2010. She conducted a linked project at the New Zealand Festival in 2011, and as a result was immediately invited to work with the Sydney Symphony and New Zealand Symphony orchestras on subscription.
As a finalist of the prestigious 2002 Maazel-Vilar Conductor’s Competition at Carnegie Hall, Carneiro was recognized by the jury for demonstrating a level of potential that holds great promise for her future career. In 2003-04, she worked with Maestros Kurt Masur and Christoph von Dohnanyi and conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as one of the three conductors chosen for London’s Allianz Cultural Foundation International Conductors Academy. From 2002 to 2005, she served as Assistant Conductor of the L.A. Chamber Orchestra and as Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles. From 2005 through 2008, she was an American Symphony Orchestra League Conducting Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where she worked closely with Esa-Pekka Salonen and led several performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.
A native of Lisbon, she began her musical studies as a violist before receiving her conducting degree from the Academia Nacional Superior de Orquestra in Lisbon, where she studied with Jean-Marc Burfin. Carneiro received her Masters degree in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University as a student of Victor Yampolsky and Mallory Thompson, and pursued doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, where she studied with Kenneth Kiesler. She has participated in master classes with Gustav Meier, Michael Tilson Thomas, Larry Rachleff, Jean Sebastian Bereau, Roberto Benzi and Pascal Rophe.
Carneiro is the 2010 recipient of the Helen M. Thompson Award, conferred by the League of American Orchestras to recognize and honour music directors of exceptional promise. In 2004, Carneiro was decorated by the President of the Portuguese Republic, Mr. Jorge Sampaio, with the Commendation of the Order of the Infante Dom Henrique.
Joana Carneiro led the Royal Swedish Orchestra in an energetic, no-nonsense reading of the score…the result was exciting: Carneiro drove the action forward with great intensity. The Royal Swedish Chorus, helped by the lack of movement on stage, was precise and enjoyable in the many complex interventions that this opera requires.
The chorus and orchestra were excellent as usual and Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro had a firm grip of the proceedings. A knockout start rendered a round of applause halfway through the overture and rhythmic precision and brisk tempo characterized the whole performance.
“Carneiro and the orchestra dug into the music with zest, evoking rugged, earthy life and passion, calm respite and mystical ceremony”
“It helps that the ENO performance is so impressive. It’s superbly conducted by Joana Carneiro, who gets fabulously intense, committed playing and singing from the ENO orchestra and chorus, while the three principal soloists are all, in their different ways, remarkable.”
“First performed in concert two years ago, The Gospel According to the Other Mary receives its first theatrical production here. English National Opera has engaged an almost entirely American cast and creative team, using only the home choral and orchestral forces, conducted forcefully by the Portuguese Joana Carniero.”
“The Other Mary is ultimately a choral piece more than an opera, and the ENO chorus and orchestra carry the bulk of it, their vastly demanding parts shouldered with huge aplomb. The Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro is at the helm of the entire tour de force, pulling together this magnificent and suitably impassioned creation.”
“Carneiro led the orchestra in a suave, rhythmically assured performance that brought out the music’s winsome charm…”
“… the 36-year-old Portuguese conductor is charismatic, a dynamic figure on the podium… Carneiro drew a transparent performance from the small orchestra for which the piece is scored…”
“Joana Carneiro began her second season… leading the orchestra in vibrant and sonically powerful accounts of music… There was plenty to admire in the evening, but what seemed most striking were the strength and depth of the strings, the clarity and precision of the woodwinds and brass, and the almost effortless ease with which everything fit together.”
“The young Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro, is energised, clear, balanced and, above all, striking. “