A vibrant, versatile and compelling presence on the podium, American conductor Kazem Abdullah is one of the most watched talents on the international stage today. Since 2012 he has been Generalmusikdirektor of the City of Aachen, Germany, where he leads both the orchestral and operatic seasons. His predecessors in this tradition-rich post include Fritz Busch, Herbert von Karajan, and Wolfgang Sawallisch. On the podium Mr. Abdullah has been lauded by both the German and international press for his work in Aachen. Recently, he was nominated by critics in Die Welt, as best conductor in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen for his conducting of Brokeback Mountain, Tosca and Tannhäuser.
This season, Mr. Abdullah will conduct three opera productions in Aachen: Macbeth, Il Trittico, and Ariadne auf Naxos. In addition, he will also lead several subscription concerts with the Sinfonieorchester Aachen and will make guest appearances with the orchestra in Amsterdam at the Concertgebouw and in the East-Belgium Music Festival. This season he will make guest appearances with the Wuhan Philharmonic in China, the Detroit Symphony, Nürnberg Symphoniker, and the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra in Ankara, Turkey. In the spring of 2017 he will lead a tour of Germany and Italy with the Nürnberger Symphoniker.
In 2009 Mr. Abdullah conducted a twelve city tour of the United States with Orquestra de São Paulo, one of Brazil’s most celebrated ensembles. Internationally he has made appearances with the St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, the Boca del Rio Philharmonic, Halle Philharmoniker, Westchester Philharmonic, the Aarhaus Opera in Denmark, Berliner Kammerphilharmonie, Nürnburg Philharmoniker, Staatskapelle Weimar, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, Oregon Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Center Orchestra of Ottawa, Augsburg Philharmoniker, Orkest Zuidnederland, Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy, and Opera national de Lorraine. Mr. Abdullah has led sold-out performances of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha at the Théâtre du Châtelet de Paris. In addition Mr. Abdullah made his Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Gluck’s Orfeo ed Eurydice. The New York Times lauded this first performance at the Metropolitan Opera as “…a confident performance… impressively responsive to the singers during their long stretches of orchestra-accompanied recitative.”
Born in the United States, Kazem Abdullah began his musical studies at the age of ten. A graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music in clarinet performance, he continued his studies at the University of Southern California. Prior to his conducting studies at The Peabody Institute of the John Hopkins University, he spent two seasons with the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson-Thomas. In 2006 Mr. Abdullah was appointed Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York by Music Director James Levine. The 2010 and 2015 recipient of the prestigious Solti Foundation U.S Career Assistance Award, he currently resides in Aachen, Germany.