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Lyon Opera Orchestra

Kent Nagano is one of the most exciting American conductors, with a particular expertise in 20th Century repertory.

His parents were Nissei (second-generation Japanese-Americans), who ran a family farm in Morro Park. He was brought up with American and Japanese traditions. For instance, in music he studied viola, clarinet, and koto, in addition to being taught piano by his mother. He attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, graduating with highest honors. He took an advanced degree at San Francisco State University. At the same time he worked with the San Francisco Opera as assistant to conductor Laszlo Varga.

From 1977 to 1979 he was Associate Artistic Director of the Opera Company of Boston under Sarah Caldwell, while studying conducting and musicology with Osbourne McConathy. In 1979 he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area. There he was Assistant Conductor of the Oakland Symphony, Music Director of the Oakland Ballet Orchestra, and Music Director of the Berkeley Promenade, which afterward changed its name to the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra.

He gained his first international reputation in a distinctly unorthodox manner: The unorthodox rock composer Frank Zappa chose him to conduct his very difficult orchestral music in a project with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1983. The next year the eminent French composer Oliver Messiaen picked Nagano to assist Seiji Ozawa in preparing the 1984 world premiere of his opera Saint Francis of Assisi.

In 1984 Nagano made headlines by substituting on less than a day's notice and with no rehearsal with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Mahler's Ninth Symphony. The standing ovations and acclaim led to receiving a Seaver Conducting Award, the largest cash conducting award, intended to "develop the talent and artistry of American conductors on the threshold of major international careers." He used the prize for studies with Ozawa, Boulez, and Bernstein.

In 1989 he was appointed Music Director of the Lyon Opera Orchestra. In 1990 he became Associate Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and won two Gramophone Awards for his recording of Prokofiev's Love of Three Oranges with the Lyon Opera. In 1991 he was named Principal Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, England.

His first recording with the Hallé was a Shostakovich & Prokofiev Violin Concerto with Vadim Repin. In 1995 he won his first Grammy for his Lyon Opera recording of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, and a second Grammy for Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with Patrick Stewart as narrator.

He has guest conducted widely, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, The Berlin Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the German Symphony Orchestra. His recordings stress 20th Century music, including Britten's The Rescue of Penelope, Adam's El Dorado, Slonimsky's Earbox, and Lolapolooza, and Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites. Throughout all this he retained his association with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. ~ Joseph Stevenson, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Gluck: Iphigénie en Tauride

Disc 1
Title: Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46

1. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Introduction & Chorus, Grands Dieux! Soyez-nous Secourables

2. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Iphigenie, O Ciel!

3. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: O Toi Qui Prolongeas Mes Jours

4. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Dieux! Le Malheur En Tous Lieux Suit Mes Pas

5. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Les Dieux Apaisent Leur Courroux

6. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Il Nous Fallait Du Sang

7. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Quel Silence Effrayant!

8. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Dieux Qui Me Poursuivez

9. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Unis Des La Plus Tendre Enfance

10. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Etrangers Malheureux

11. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Le Calme Rentre Dans Mon Coeur

12. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Vengeons Et La Nature Et Les Dieux

13. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Je Vois Toute L'horreur

14. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: O Malheureuse Iphigenie

15. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Honorez Avec Moi Ce Heros

Disc 2

1. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Je Cede A Vos Desirs

2. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Je Pourrais Du Tyran Tromper La Barbarie

3. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Et Tu Pretends Encore Que Tu M'aimes

4. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Ah! Mon Ami, J'implore Ta Pitie

5. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Malgre Toi, Je Saurai T'arracher Au Trepas

6. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Divinite Des Grandes Ames

7. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Non, Cet Affreux Devoir

8. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: O Diane, Sois-nous Propice

9. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Chaste Fille De Latone

10. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Quel Moment! Dieux Puissants

11. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: De Tes Forfaits La Trame Est Decouverte

12. Iphigénie En Tauride, Opera In 4 Acts, Wq. 46: Ta Soeur! Qu'ai -Je Entendu?

x

Track List: Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Disc 1
Title: Dialogues Des Carmélites, Opera, FP 159
Disc 2

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