Critically acclaimed for “a combination of authority, charisma, and technical aplomb rarely found in a young conductor,” (Seen and Heard International) Kensho Watanabe is quickly establishing himself internationally as an artist known for his collaborative leadership and intelligently crafted performances. Following successful debut performances at the Metropolitan Opera last season with Kevin Puts’ The Hours and Terrence Blanchard’s Champion, Watanabe returns to the Met this season to conduct the full revival run of The Hours.
The 2022-23 season saw Watanabe’s subscription return to The Philadelphia Orchestra, with whom he maintains a close relationship following his tenure as Assistant Conductor from 2016-19. He also returned to the Sarasota Orchestra, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and the RTE Concert Orchestra, while making debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, and the Pasadena Symphony.
Equally at home in both symphonic and operatic repertoire, Watanabe will open his 2023-24 season by making his Detroit Opera debut with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. In addition to his work at the Metropolitan Opera, Watanabe has led numerous operas, including performances of La bohème at Spoleto Festival USA in 2022. He has also previously worked with the Curtis Opera Theatre, the Castleton Festival, and Opéra de Montréal.
Recent highlights include Watanabe’s debuts with the London Philharmonic and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestras, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Turku Philharmonic, and his Polish debut with Filarmonia Szczecin. Watanabe has also enjoyed collaborations with the Houston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Brussels Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, and Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal.
Based in Paris, Watanabe was the inaugural conducting fellow of the Curtis Institute of Music from 2013 to 2015, studying with his longtime mentor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. An accomplished violinist, Watanabe received his Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music and served as a substitute violinist in The Philadelphia Orchestra from 2012 to 2016. He is also a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with distinguished conducting pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. Additionally, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Yale, where he studied molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.