“Yesterday’s concert at Meyerhoff
Symphony Hall was no exception.
Impeccable musicianship. High-voltage
delivery. A standing ovation. In other
words, more of what we’ve come to
expect from conductor Karen Gorden.”
– Arts Baltimore
Karen Gorden has proven herself to be a vibrant and compelling conductor on the international classical music scene.
Singled out by Kennedy Center as a promising musical leader for top arts organizations, Gorden has been described by The American Composers Orchestra as “an admirable and gifted conductor indeed…a conductor for any ensemble that expects to work at a high level of professionalism and looks to make music with creativity and purpose.”
Karen Gorden enjoys a rich association with the Grüner Hügel Orchestra in Germany as its Principal Guest Conductor. Made up of musicians selected from symphony orchestras across Germany, the Orchestra is in residence at the SGI-D Kulturzentrum Villa Sachsen in Bingen am Rhein – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With the Grüner Hügel Orchestra Gorden conducts creative and eclectic programs which enjoy a high degree of connection with the greater Frankfurt community.
Gorden continues her successful relationship with the Bombay Chamber Orchestra, India’s only full-season symphony orchestra. Their partnership will span three seasons, from 2016-17 to 2018-19. Audiences at India’s National Centre for the Performing Arts have greeted these concerts with great enthusiasm.
In the U.S., Karen Gorden has been invited to the podiums of leading symphony orchestras including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. As a visiting conductor, she holds the distinction of being invited for return visits by every orchestra she has guest-conducted.
A recent highlight was an invitation to speak at Washington D.C.’s International Jazz Day; Ms. Gorden is one of the few classical musicians to be so honored. As a particularly happy outcome of this event, jazz icon Buster Williams has agreed to write a piece for jazz bass and symphony orchestra, to be given its premier performance by himself and Ms. Gorden.
In just the second year of her conducting career, Ms. Gorden was invited by Kurt Masur to spend a season as Conducting Fellow with the New York Philharmonic. The following year she came to international attention at the 50th Geneva International Conducting Competition (Concours de Genève), where she was awarded the jury’s Special Prize. Ms. Gorden was then invited to join the conducting staff at the Staatsoper und Staatskapelle Berlin.
At the Staatsoper Gorden worked with renowned artists such as Pierre Boulez, Placido Domingo, Bryn Terfel, Harry Kupfer, Daniel Barenboim, and Zubin Mehta. Ms. Gorden’s summers were spent at the prestigious Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, on productions of Tristan und Isolde, Don Giovanni, and Moses und Aron. Ms. Gorden’s contract at the Staatsoper was extended for a second season, which included the Berliner Festtage production of Wagner’s Ring cycle.
A champion of 20th- and 21st-century music, Gorden has enjoyed personal collaborations with some of the world’s greatest composers of contemporary classical music such as Pierre Boulez (Centre Acanthes/Avignon Festival) and Elliott Carter (Amherst Contemporary Ensemble).
An eloquent advocate for the power of music to transform the lives of youth, Gorden has consistently mentored young musicians – judging international competitions, conducting young orchestras and ensembles, and advising on special youth music projects, notably the Chicago Youth Peace Project “Reach for the Sky.”
Gorden also embraces projects which extend the repertoire and reach of today’s symphony orchestras. Commissions include an Arts Council Artist’s Project Grant to compose a new concert ending for the overture to Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and to conduct the first performance. Through this project the work has been made freshly accessible to audiences as a stylistically authentic, freestanding concert piece.
A believer in the importance of global accessibility for the arts, in 2014 Ms. Gorden founded the organization FORCULTURE. As FORCULTURE’s Executive and Artistic Director, she engages in dialogue and partnerships with global arts organizations with the goal of helping them secure optimum sustainable futures on all levels.
Her contributions to music have been recognized with the Prix Nadia Boulanger (France), and the Opera Prize of the State Theater Opava (Czech Republic).
Gorden counts among her most important mentors the legendary conductor Franco Ferrara. She is a graduate, with honors, of Yale University and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon, France.
Born in North America, brought up in South America, and educated in Europe and the United States, she considers the world her home.
General Management: Olga Gilson