This young rising star from Philly just got the call-up of a lifetime

Kensho Watanabe

The Philadelphia Inquirer | By David Patrick Stearns

Kensho Watanabe can barely fathom the turn of events that found him on stage leading the Philadelphia Orchestra last weekend — with three hours’ notice.

 “I know what happened,” Watanabe said in an interview this week. “But my brain is still processing it.”

Surreal is one word that comes to mind, he said. Watanabe was notified at 5 p.m. Saturday that music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin had come down with a virus and could not conduct the 8 p.m. program at the Kimmel Center.

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Published June 29, 2017
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Kensho Watanabe appointed assistant conductor of Philadelphia Orchestra

Kensho Watanabe

Kensho Watanabe

Kensho Watanabe ’09BS ’10MM has been appointed assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he’ll serve under acclaimed Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Watanabe studied conducting with Otto-Werner Mueller at the Curtis Institute of Music, earning a Diploma in 2013. As the school’s first Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow, Watanabe was mentored for two years by Nézet-Séguin and had “incredible access” to the Philadelphia Orchestra, with which he’s worked as a substitute violinist. Watanabe has directed numerous Curtis Opera Theatre productions and served as an assistant to Nézet-Séguin for Opera de Montréal’s 2015 production of Elektra.

Watanabe studied molecular, cell, and developmental biology at Yale College, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 2009. He earned his master’s degree in violin from the Yale School of Music, where he studied, as he had as an undergraduate, with Syoko Aki.

“Being at Yale really sparked my interest in conducting,” Watanabe said, citing Yale Symphony Orchestra Music Director Toshiyuki Shimada, whom he assisted as an undergraduate, as a particularly supportive figure.

The summer after completing his undergraduate degree, and in the summers of 2010 and 2011, Watanabe studied with Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School and Summer Music Festival, where his interest in conducting took hold and led him to Mueller’s studio at Curtis.

In addition to his work with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Watanabe’s upcoming schedule includes appearances with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra Métropolitain in Montreal.

Looking forward to his work in Philadelphia, Watanabe said, “I’ve really grown up with this orchestra. I’ve learned so much from this orchestra.”

Watanabe’s appointment begins with the 2016-2017 Philadelphia Orchestra season.

Published July 19, 2016
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San Diego Symphony appoints Kensho Watanabe its inaugural conducting fellow

kensho-watanabeThe San Diego Symphony announced Wednesday that Kensho Watanabe ’09 BS, ’10 MM will serve in the new role of conducting fellow. Sameer Patel will be the orchestra’s new assistant conductor.

Jahja Ling ’80 MMA, ’85 DMA, who has been the music director of the San Diego Symphony, plans to step down at the end of the 2016–2017 season. Ling was recently honored with YSM’s Distinguished Service Award.

Watanabe, who recently finished serving as conducting fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music, was chosen for a similar role in San Diego, where he will conduct a limited number of concerts. MORE

Published June 5, 2015
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