Sri Lankan-Dutch conductor and theatre maker Manoj Kamps recently made their debut with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra at the 2023 Holland Festival, conducting a televised performance of William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops as the centrepiece of a commemoration, contemplating the impact of World War II on Amsterdam and on ANOHNI, the festival’s Associate Artist. Throughout 2023/24, Kamps debuts as conductor and curator with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in two special projects, and embarks on an extensive tour with the Orchestra of 18th Century, bringing semi-staged performances of Così fan tutte to major halls including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Rotterdam De Doelen, TivoliVredenburg Utrecht and Concertgebouw Brugge. Following a successful debut in 2021, Kamps returns to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to conduct Brahms’ Symphony 2 in their regional series with Federico Colli as soloist in Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
In the opera world, Kamps is now a regular guest at Dutch National Opera. Having previously collaborated with director Lisenka Heijboer Castañón on FAUST [working title] (with Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in the pit) and I Have Missed You Forever (co-produced by Asko|Schönberg in the Opera Forward Festival ‘22), Kamps returns again in 2023/24 as co-creator and conductor of Ellen Reid’s The Shell Trial (world premiere). Commissioned by DNO and co-produced with Het Geluid Maastricht, Opera Philadelphia and Bregenz Festival, the performances will feature an ensemble from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Nieuw Amsterdams Children’s Chorus, and Julia Bullock in the cast. Plans further ahead include Kamps’ debut at La Monnaie De Munt, Brussels.
Previously, Kamps conducted productions with Opera North (Handel’s Giulio Cesare alongside Christian Curnyn, followed by a revival of La Traviata), with HERMES & Muziektheater Transparant (premiere and subsequent international tour of Hilda Paredes’ Harriet, starring Claron McFadden in the title role), as well as their US conducting 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. At Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and on European tour, Kamps conducted and co-created the chamber opera Be With Me Now.
Other recent highlights include a contemporary programme in Philharmonia Orchestra’s Music of Today series, subscription concerts with Ulster Orchestra (Farrenc’s Symphony 3 and Ravel Piano Concerto in G with Steven Osborne), and London Sinfonietta (Steve Reich’s large-scale multimedia work Reich/Richter alongside the premiere of Anna Clyne’s Fractured Time) which received glowing reviews:
The Guardian (****) writes “Reich’s mathematical rigour has the intensity of Bach, and produces — as so often in Bach — uplifting, joyously optimistic music, particularly in the opening and closing sections of Reich/Richter. Conductor Manoj Kamps was the cool head who kept it all together so triumphantly.” [Stephen Pritchard]
The Times praises “(…) the stamina and co-ordination of the musicians and the conductor Manoj Kamps, effortlessly guiding a crack team through a score as unstoppable as Niagara Falls.” [Geoff Brown]
Notable previous engagements include performances with the BBC Philharmonic and Brussels Philharmonic orchestras, as well as extensive tours with Phion (formerly Het Gelders Orkest/Het Orkest van het Oosten), and the Netherlands Student Orchestra (culminating in Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw).
Highly respected in the new music world, Kamps has forged strong relationships with some of today’s leading contemporary ensembles and festivals. These include include Asko|Schönberg (Dutch premiere of Philip Venables’ The Gender Agenda at the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw), B’Rock, KLANG, November Music Festival (premieres of Seung-Won Oh’s YeonDo, Calliope Tsoupaki’s Liknon), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and Gaudeamus. Following several fruitful collaborations, Kamps will be reappearing with HERMESensemble and I SOLISTI in January 2024 for Antwerp’s ‘Downtown New York’ Festival.
Manoj Kamps held the coveted post of Junior Fellow in Orchestral Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester from 2015-2017, mentored by Sir Mark Elder, and has participated in masterclasses with a.o. Bernard Haitink, Carlo Rizzi and Vasily Petrenko.
Manoj Kamps curates and conducts two concerts with Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra this season. The first concert features music by Debussy, Van Veldhuizen, Sondheim, and Björk and takes place on 8 September at De Doelen Rotterdam. With Kamps leading the curation of...
Manoj Kamps conducts Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at Holland Festival on 18 June 2023. On the programme is William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops which has become culturally associated with 9/11 commemoration. The ceremonial “performance” will be presented by...
Manoj Kamps returns to London for a subscription concert on 6 April 2023, 19:30 with the London Sinfonietta at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. The programme includes Steve Reich’s major new work Reich/Richter performed alongside visual artist Gerhard...
“the orchestra was led by Manoj Kamps who expertly guides this compelling narrative as a rollercoaster of emotions through music” [La Traviata, 2022]
“I was lucky to be in front of the conductor for the evening, Manoj Kamps. The passion showed in their direction of the orchestra was a pleasure to witness and displayed the sensitivity and passion required in order to bring out the lyrical lines and passionate themes of Verdi’s work. Manoj brought out the finest sounds that we have come to expect from the Opera North orchestra.” [La Traviata, 2022]
“Manoj Kamps with convincing tempi and dynamic conducted the Orchestra of Opera North, who rose splendidly to the occasion, in such a successful collaboration.” [La Traviata, 2022]
“[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)
“Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and De Doelen opened their season with a carte blanche for queer conductor Manoj Kamps. […] In this piece (Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune) Debussy most resembles Ravel and Kamps captured that beautifully. […] Kamps’ debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra could not have ended better.”
“True, the amplified sound couldn’t be called silky, but that did nothing to stem the stamina and co-ordination of the musicians and the conductor Manoj Kamps, effortlessly guiding a crack team through a score as unstoppable as Niagara Falls.”
“Reich’s mathematical rigour has the intensity of Bach, and produces – as so often in Bach – uplifting, joyously optimistic music, particularly in the opening and closing sections of Reich/Richter. Conductor Manoj Kamps was the cool head who kept it all together so triumphantly.”
“Variously sized groups of players from the London Sinfonietta, conducted by Manoj Kamps, displayed their expertise.”
“the conductor Manoj Kamps, effortlessly guiding a crack team through a score as unstoppable as Niagara Falls”
“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]