Conductor and theatre maker Manoj Kamps opened 2020/21 with the newly created piece FAUST [working title] for Dutch National Opera. As musical director and co-creator of this work, Manoj is part of a strong team of young Dutch theatre makers alongside director and co-creator Lisenka Heijboer Castañón, conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in seven sold-out performances. FAUST [working title] opened up the space of Dutch National Opera to other sounds, music and languages, and explored the abundance of voices that are present in the world. Together with inspiring composers, arrangers and musicians from all around the world, the team imagined new landscapes in the world of music theatre as a reflection of the events of 2020.
Manoj’s planned debuts this season include Phion (formerly Het Gelders Orkest/Het Orkest van het Oosten) in a series of 16 staged performances across the Netherlands of a new work by Corrie van Binsbergen based on stories by Toon Tellegen; and I SOLISTI at the De Bijloke Muziekcentrum, featuring a new work by Daan Janssens alongside works by Alberto Posadas and Georg Friedrich Haas. Other planned engagements include Ziggo NL’s Requiem project featuring movements by seven composers performed by Nederlands Kamerkoor and Vocaal Talent Nederland at TivoliVredenburg Utrecht. Following the Dutch première in 2019 of Philip Venables’ The Gender Agenda with Asko|Schönberg, Manoj will conduct further performances in May 2021.
In Autumn 2019, Manoj Kamps debuted at Opera North in a performance of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, as associate conductor alongside Christian Curnyn. Manoj conducted the world première of Hilda Paredes’ Harriet at the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw in 2018 – featuring Claron McFadden, for whom this was written, the production with Muziektheater Transparant and HERMESensemble subsequently appeared at the Cervantino Festival (Mexico), Huddersfield International Contemporary Music Festival, Rotterdam Opera Days, the Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse (Lyon) and deSingel (Antwerp). Manoj also conducted the world première and European tour of the chamber opera Be With Me Now premiered at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence; a new production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen for Nederlandse Reisopera/De Veenfabriek, and worked as assistant conductor on the Nederlandse Reisopera’s acclaimed production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt with the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra under Antony Hermus.
Other highlights from recent seasons include Manoj’s US debut with the semi-staged première of MILA, Great Sorcerer by Andrea Clearfield at New York’s Prototype Festival 2019 with The Knights and the New York Virtuoso Singers; as well as conducting orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, the Brussels Philharmonic and the Ulster Orchestra, and working regularly with Cappella Amsterdam and the Netherlands Chamber Choir. Manoj conducted a programme including The Rite of Spring at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in spring 2020 with the Netherlands Student Orchestra as culmination of a substantial tour of the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg.
Contemporary music has always been a cornerstone of Manoj’s career. Last season, Manoj conducted the première of Calliope Tsoupaki’s Bosch Requiem at November Music in Den Bosch and at the Muziekgebouw Amsterdam. Manoj also conducted works by Wim Henderickx, Annelies Van Parys and Vykintas Baltakas with HERMESensemble at the Transit Festival, and works by Feldman and Bart de Vrees with Asko|Schönberg at the Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ in Amsterdam. With Asko|Schönberg, Manoj was also asked to take over a series of concerts from the late Reinbert de Leeuw, featuring works by Claude Vivier and Reza Namavar. Manoj has conducted premières by Michel van der Aa (The Book of Sand, a digital project created by the composer), Peter Eötvös (Dutch première of da capo with ensemble Ludwig), Karlheinz Stockhausen (Dutch première of Mikrophonie II) and Louis Andriessen (first performances of early works, under the composer’s guidance) amongst many others, at festivals including the Holland Festival, the AAA Festival of the Royal Concertgebouw, Aldeburgh Festival, Gaudeamus Festival and Musica Sacra Maastricht.
Manoj held the coveted post of Junior Fellow in Orchestral Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester from 2015-2017. During this time Manoj worked with the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra and Manchester Camerata, studying with Sir Mark Elder, Clark Rundell and Mark Heron. Manoj has assisted the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Konzerthausorchester Berlin (Iván Fischer), BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (Juanjo Mena), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (Andrew Manze), Prague Symphony Orchestra (Jac van Steen), Rundfunkchor Berlin (Simon Rattle) and the Netherlands Bach Society (Ed Spanjaard).
Please note: Manoj Kamps is non-binary (i.e. not male or female). When writing about Manoj, please only use Manoj’s name (as demonstrated in this biography) instead of pronouns, or refer to Manoj using they/them pronouns.
Manoj Kamps conducts Philharmonia Orchestra in a Music of Today concert on Sunday 3 April, 18:00 as part of the Southbank Centre’s SoundState Festival. The programme features Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Entropic Arrows and Liza Lim’s How Forests Think (with Wu Wei as solo...
Manoj Kamps returns to the Dutch National Opera as co-creator and conductor of I have missed you forever. Directed by Lisenka Heijboer Castañón and featuring co-producers Asko|Schönberg ensemble in the pit, the new opera will premiere on 12 March 2022 at the...
Manoj Kamps conducts the official world premiere of Korean-Dutch composer Seung-Won Oh’s YeonDo on 14 November as part of the contemporary festival November Music at the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center. Performed by singer Helena Rasker, Cappella Pratensis, and the New...
“[Kamps is] a huge talent, and gave De Tijd a chilling performance..” [translated from Dutch, Tribute concert to Louis Andriessen at The Royal Conservatory The Hague]
“Director Lisenka Heijboer Castañón and conductor Manoj Kamps create a coherent whole from these disparate tales […] the work impresses with its polish, professionalism, strong performances and poignant moments.”
“As soon as the musicians earnestly begin the first notes of Farrenc’s Third Symphony, led by the graceful, dancing hand movements of queer conductor Manoj Kamps, you realize that a brave statement is being made here against conservatism and for more femininity and individual expression in the concert hall. (…) Kamps invites the orchestra to play gracefully and lightly, but to go all out at precisely the right moments, so that the listener is entranced. The message of freedom, self-confidence and emancipation reaches us unfiltered.” [translated from Dutch]
“Phion was guided through it tightly and sensitively by Manoj Kamps.” (Louise Farrenc’s Symphony No. 3)
“The Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest sat in the pit, appropriately spaced and visibly enthusiastic after months of forced inactivity, under the careful guidance of Manoj Kamps, a promising young Dutch conductor who conducts with a confident attitude and whom we would like to listen to again in another context.” [translated from Italian]
“Despite the distance rules, the orchestra pit is well filled with musicians from the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Manoj Kamps brings them all together with graceful gestures. This is not an easy task due to the distances and because some instruments are placed on the side panels or the balconies (harp, grand piano, wind instruments).” [translated from Dutch]
“Musical director Manoj Kamps reigns supreme, which is an exceptional accomplishment with so many transitional moments to navigate in this collage piece. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra played with agility and discipline in equal measure under Manoj’s direction. Kamps is an extraordinary talent.” [translated from Dutch]
“…conductor Manoj Kamps is consistently clear and successfully maintains the musical tension [in Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with Nederlands Studenten Orkest].” [translated from Dutch]
“Paredes’s score remains bright and surprising over the 90 minutes, as Manoj Kamps and HERMESEnsemble weave guitar, violin and a battery of percussion into the electronic web designed by Monica Gil Girardo.”
“With the ensemble led assiduously by the conductor Manoj Kamps… creating an atmosphere both immersive and insidious.” (Review of Harriet at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2018)
“Perhaps the success is primarily due to Kamps. He is frail and elegant in appearance, almost like a ballet dancer as he conducts. He gets a beautiful sound from the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra members are spaced apart, but still produce a homogeneous sound. On stage, in addition to four young soloists (sopranos Olga Busuioc and Fang Fang Kong, mezzo-soprano Polly Leech and baritone Martin Mkhize), there are two choirs at work: the Choir of the National Opera and a large children’s choir. But the sound comes all the way around. Part of the opera choir is located on the second balcony across the entire width of the hall, with wind instruments on the left and right. Kamps knows how to keep it all together and make it sound great.” [translated from Italian]
“Kamps’ delicate figure radiates tranquility, with a simultaneously graceful and powerful way of conducting that makes the transitions between completely different music styles feel entirely natural.” [translated from Dutch]
“Beautifully sung by the children’s choir, the large choir at the top of the theater, and compellingly conducted by Kamps. Then: a parade of joyful associations with music and stories from all corners of the world. Kamps keeps everything together amazingly well and wonderfully leads the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra through what is very atypical material for them. The highlight of the evening was the performance of Vivier’s “Lonely Child”” [translated from Dutch]
“…Stravinsky [The Rite of Spring] with remarkable authority and panache… you were nevertheless asked what a highly regarded young conductor would make of the Stravinsky cornerstone in the large repertoire. I didn’t think it would be so good. Kamps wants to relive the primal experience. It was lightning and hunting, devouring and swearing roughly moved but crystal clear, a remarkable synthesis of action painting and fine painting. There is certainly more talent, but this performance was impressive proof that symphony orchestras should ask Kamps for the prestige pieces as soon as possible before he leaves for countries where they can.” [translated from Dutch]
“The main thing is: you hear and see that Manoj Kamps is a great talent.” [translated from Dutch]
“The chamber orchestra The Knights, wielding not just Western instruments but a variety of jangly Tibetan ones, realized Clearfield’s ever-changing orchestral textures superbly under the attentive direction of Manoj Kamps.”
“The score is intensely detailed and challenging… The execution was guided with precise and attentive baton of Manoj Kamps” [Translated from Spanish]