Kensho Watanabe

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 on 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.

The 2022-23 season will see Watanabe give debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, and Pasadena Symphony Orchestras. He will also return to the Philadelphia Orchestra for subscription concerts, as well as to the Rhode Island Philharmonic and RTE Concert Orchestra.

Equally at home in both symphonic and operatic repertoire, Watanabe has led numerous operas, most recently at the Spoleto Festival 2022 conducting La bohème. This season will see Kensho work with Nézet-Séguin for Kevin Puts’ THE HOURS with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Met, Terence Blanchard’s CHAMPION with the Met. He will also conduct Madame Butterfly with the Michigan Opera Theatre.

Recent highlights include Kensho’s debuts with the London Philharmonic and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestras, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Jyväskylä Sinfonia, Turku Philharmonic, and his Polish debut with the Filarmonia Szczecin. Kensho has also enjoyed recent collaborations with the Houston Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Brussels Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Charlotte Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, and the Orchestre Metropolitain in Montreal.