Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre Métropolitain
Quickly establishing himself as a significant interpreter of orchestral and operatic music, Canadian conductor Julian Kuerti has combined a confident style, artistic integrity and passion for collaboration to position himself at the forefront of the international music scene.
Having been Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montreal from 2013-16, and the 2012-14 Principal Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Universidad de Concepción in Chile, Kuerti has made a reputation for himself both in the Americas and abroad.
In Montreal, Kuerti has lead numerous subscription concerts including performances of Schubert’s “Great” Symphony and an all-Pelleas & Melisande program (Faure/Sibelius/Schoenberg) at the Maison Symphonique de Montréal. In Chile, he conducted a wide variety of programmes, including staged operas, which have included Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Bizet’s Carmen, as well as various symphonic programs including a Beethoven marathon, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Verdi’s Grand Messa di Requiem.
In Europe, Kuerti’s guest engagements have brought him on numerous occasions to the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, and Stavanger Symphony of Norway. He has also enjoyed concerts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Aarhus Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Het Gelders Orchestra, Fundacion Excelentia in Madrid, Opera Toulon Provence Mediterranée, Bournemouth Symphony, RTE National Orchestra of Dublin, The National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, Monte Carlo Philharmonic and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.
In Asia and Australasia, Julian has worked with the Malaysian Philharmonic and the New Zealand Symphony. Being described as the “Epitome of cool graciousness” by The New Zealand Herald for his interpretation of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Kuerti’s appeal obviously extends much further than the performance platform.
Closer to home, as well as his ongoing collaboration with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montreal, Kuerti also works with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Cincinnati, New Jersey, Quebec, Utah and Vancouver, and the St. Paul and Los Angeles chamber orchestras. In 2011, he made his New York City Opera debut at Lincoln Center leading Oliver Knussen’s “Where the Wild Things Are.”
15/16 highlights included conducting Mahler’s Symphony No.4 with Soprano Asselin Mireille for the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, acclaimed concerts at the Maison Symphonique with Orchestre Metropolitain de Montreal and a new staged production of Bizet’s Carmen, with Nancy Fabiola Herrera in the title role and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional del Peru, in the new Lima Opera House, Gran Teatro Nacional.
For the 16/17 season Kuerti continues to work with Orchestre Metropolitain de Montreal, conducting in first this December and returning in April to perform Haydn’s The Seven last Words of Christ. Kuerti continues to be a global presence this season, conducting the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra in Norway, with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, symphonic performances in Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires and a reinvitation to Fundacion Excelentia to conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No.9.
In 2014, Kuerti began extensive research into the work of Chilean composer Enrique Soro, culminating in the preparation of a critical edition for performance of his Sinfonica Romantica. He led concerts featuring this work with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Concepcion in November 2015, which were recorded for television broadcast. The months of work preparing this symphony for publication and the final performance itself is the subject of an upcoming documentary film, Recording Romantica by Chilean filmmaker Carlos Pérez.
Kuerti was born in Toronto into one of Canada’s most distinguished musical families; his father is famed pianist Anton Kuerti. He began his instrumental training on the violin, studying with some of Canada’s finest teachers. While completing an honors degree in engineering and physics at the University of Toronto, Kuerti kept up the violin, performing as concertmaster and soloist with various Canadian orchestras. After taking a year off and touring Brazil with Kahana, a Toronto-based world-music band, Kuerti began his conducting studies in the year 2000 at the University of Toronto. That summer he was accepted as a student at the renowned Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Maine, where he studied for two years with Michael Jinbo and Claude Monteux.
Kuerti studied with David Zinman at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen in 2004, and with acclaimed Finnish Maestro Jorma Panula at the NAC Conductors Programme in Ottawa. In 2005, he was one of two conducting fellows at Tanglewood, where he had the opportunity to learn in masterclasses from James Levine, Kurt Masur, Stefan Asbury and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, performing with the TMC orchestra and fellows throughout the summer. That same year, Kuerti also finished his work with Lutz Köhler at the University of the Arts Berlin, whom he had studied with since 2001.
Kuerti served as assistant conductor to James Levine at the Boston Symphony, completing his three-year tenure in 2010. During the 2006-07 season, he was assistant conductor to Ivan Fischer at the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which he led in performances of Viktor Ullmann’s opera “Der Kaiser von Atlantis” the following season. From 2005 to 2008, he was founding artistic director and principal conductor of Berlin’s Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop, with whom he recorded the album “When We Were Trees” by Italian cellist and composer Giovanni Sollima for Sony/BMG. Kuerti conducted the Boston Symphony Chamber Players in music by Golijov and Foss on “Plain Song, Fantastic Dances,” released in 2011 on the BSO’s own label.
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“From the downbeat, one was immediately struck by Kuerti’s natural, genuine musicianship that encouraged musicality as well as precision from his players … the orchestra was in very good hands.”
“Under the baton of Julian Kuerti, the orchestra produced a stirring finale which had the audience…stamping their feet in appreciation.”
“Under the baton of Julian Kovatchev the performance of the Orchestra of the Sächsischen Staatskapelle Dresden was pure fascination ( as it was on 5/11/2013 ). From the first note to the last , the Orchestra not only acted as a solid base for the singers, but it also worked in binding the various vocal individual elements together into a larger totality, thus achieving a marvellous overall effect. Like the famous red thread that never breaks , the wonderful sound of the Orchestra moved through the entire evening. It was present at every stage, but without restricting the singers either by volume or by pushing in the foreground. On the contrary, Kovatchev often let the musicians hold back in order to give “priority” to the actors onstage and let the less powerful voices develop as well .”
Ingrid Gerk, Der Neue Merker
“But the very best was the Staatskapelle Dresden. They played great under the conduction of Julian Kovatchev from the first to the last note with great skill and dedication, and hit the nerve of action and music. It was the unifying element and secure foundation that carried the singers. It was a rare, blissful harmony between singers and orchestra. A wonderfully delicate violin underlined in a touching way the tragic ending in the final act, both shocking and comforting at the same time. The fact that the enthusiastic applause only began after a long affected silence was probably the best compliment for this and a proof that the operas of past centuries can still be emotionally touching when they are sung and played accordingly, without having to be forcibly dragged into the present. It was again “grand opera”, at last. Something that, unfortunately, had often been missing in recent years.”
Ingrid Gerk, Der Neue Merker
“Conductor Julian Kovatchev evokes hectic chaos that sounds spontaneous but flows with the precision required to allow all the singers to be heard amid the subplots and choral punctuations. Every melodic line is sweetly, effortlessly delivered as the tale thickens.”
John Keillor, National Post
“[…] the tireless conductor Julian Kovatchev […] produced a firm orchestral base with intelligent dramatic phrasing. We were able to enjoy the full richness of Verdi’s score in an acoustic that encourages careful listening but is nevertheless generous in its clarity.”
James Imam, Bachtrak