“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 one of the most vibrant and compelling conductors on the international music scene today.
Acclaimed for her conducting appearances with major orchestras such as the National Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra, Ms. Gorden has been singled out by the Kennedy Center as one of the most promising music directors for American arts organizations. The American Composers Orchestra describes her 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.”
Ms. Gorden first came to international attention at the 50th Geneva International Conducting Competition, where she was awarded the Special Jury Prize. Invited to join the conducting staff at the Staatsoper Berlin, Ms. Gorden became one of the first female conductors to work in the German opera house system.
At the Staatsoper she worked with artists such as Placido Domingo, Bryn Terfel, Harry Kupfer, Patrice Chéreau, Zubin Mehta, and Daniel Barenboim.
Invitations from the renowned Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals followed, for productions of Tristan und Isolde, Don Giovanni, and Moses und Aron. When the Staatsoper extended Ms. Gorden’s contract for an additional season, she joined the artistic team for the Berliner Festtage production of Wagner’s Ring cycle.
A champion of 20th- and 21st-century music, Ms. Gorden has enjoyed collaborations with composers Elliott Carter, Jacob Druckman, and John Harbison. At the invitation of IRCAM, she was a guest lecturer on the music of Pierre Boulez with the Centre Acanthes at the Avignon Festival.
Ms. Gorden is an eloquent advocate for the power of music to transform the lives of youth. Recently she accepted an invitation to develop a young person’s orchestra in Baltimore that could serve as a model for communities throughout the United States. This goal was realized when the young musicians were designated the official training ensemble of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
With a view to extending the repertoire and reach of symphony orchestras, Ms. Gorden undertakes to compose, arrange and orchestrate works that will transform the concert experience. Notable projects include a commission to compose a new concert ending for the overture to Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, for which she also conducted the world premiere.
In 2014, in order to explore fresh channels for conveying the message and mission of the arts, Ms. Gorden founded the nonprofit organization ForCulture. As ForCulture’s Executive Director, she helps initiate dialogue between leading cultural, educational and financial thinkers to create new models for arts organizations around the world.
Ms. Gorden has personally lived the power of the arts to bridge cultures. Born in the Midwest, she spent her childhood in South America (where she made her debut at age seven), pursued her musical studies and her early career in both Europe and the U.S., and now considers the world her home.
Ms. Gorden’s contributions to music have been recognized with an International Cultural Exchange Award from the French Government, an Ohio Arts Council Artist’s Project Grant, the Prix Nadia Boulanger (France), and the Opera Prize of the State Theater Opava (Czech Republic).
Karen Gorden counts among her mentors the legendary Maestro Franco Ferarra. She is a graduate, with highest honors, of Yale University and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Lyon, France
General Management: Olga Gilson
Photo: Mark Trew