Following the appointment of Barry Wordsworth as Music Director of The Royal Ballet and an international search for his successor, Birmingham Royal Ballet is delighted to announce, after an exhaustive recruitment process, the appointment of Koen Kessels as its Music Director.
A Belgian national, Kessels studied at the Royal Flemish Conservatoire of Music in Antwerp. He has worked extensively across the world with companies including the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Flanders Opera, the Opera National de Paris and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
In 1998 he founded the HERMESensemble specialising in contemporary music, for which he collaborated amongst others with Luc Ferrari, Kaija Saariaho, Yan Maresz, Joby Talbot and George Benjamin. In 2000 he worked with Kent Nagano on the world premiere of l’Amour de Loin at the Salzburger Festspiele 2000.
Since 2005, he has been a regular guest conductor for the Ballet at the Opéra National de Paris (Le Parc, Coppélia, Proust, Cinderella, Hurlevent, Hommage Jerôme Robbins, and Giselle, with several engagements following for upcoming seasons. With Le Parc, he toured Japan and also performed at Sadler’s Wells. Proust (Roland Petit), Cinderella (Nureyev) (Opus d’Or) and Hommage Jerôme Robbins have been released on DVD.
Koen Kessels is music director of Zomeropera Alden Biesen (Belgium), artistic director of HERMESensemble, guest conductor at The National Opera Sofia and member of the artistic direction at the Antwerp Royal Music Conservatoire.
Christopher Barron, Chief Executive of Birmingham Royal Ballet, said:
“This appointment underpins our commitment to the highest quality of performance across all areas of the Company. As one of the major commissioners of new music for dance and a Company striving to develop both our repertoire and the art form, Koen’s contribution will be essential as we move forward. The recruitment period for this post has been long and thorough and we believe we have made an excellent choice of the individual who will lead our orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, into the next stage of its history”
Koen Kessels said:
“On tour for the Ballet of Flanders with Swan Lake, I had the chance to work for the first time with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. It was a real pleasure. Our second meeting was in Sadler’s Wells with the Paris Opera and Le Parc. On the third occasion, preparing our Covent Garden performances of The Nutcracker, I met the company in Birmingham and had my first conversations with David Bintley. When the proposal came to succeed Barry Wordsworth, I felt very honoured and proud”
Kessels will conduct a number of performances of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker in December and will join the Company for its 2010 season.