Kazem Abdullah  

September 10 & 11,  2020 | Hill Auditorium


A vibrant, versatile and compelling presence on the podium, American conductor Kazem Abdullah is one of the most watched up-and-coming talents on the international stage today. Since 2012 he has been Generalmusikdirektor of the City of Aachen, Germany, where he leads both the orchestral and operatic seasons. His predecessors in this tradition-rich post include Fritz Busch, Herbert von Karajan, and Wolfgang Sawallisch.

In his third season in Aachen, Kazem Abdullah conducts four opera productions: Luisa Miller, Brokeback Mountain, Jenufa and West Side Story. In addition to this he will also lead several subscription concerts and will conduct Mendelssohn’s Elijah in the Aachener Dom. As GMD in Aachen, Kazem Abdullah will also serve as the artistic director of the 4th International Aachen Chor Bienalle where he will lead several concerts with choirs from Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Iceland and France.

A passionate advocate of new music as well as established repertoire, Maestro Abdullah continues to develop relationships with national and international orchestras and opera houses. Among his orchestral credits are the Berliner Kammerphilharmonie, Philharmonisches Orchester der Stadt Nürnburg, Staatskapelle Weimar, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, Oregon Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburg Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, Huntsville Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Napa Valley Symphony, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, and the National Arts Center Orchestra of Ottawa. During the 2013- 14 season, Mr. Abdullah’s guest conducting included performances with the Pasadena Symphony, Augsburg Philharmoniker, Orkest Zuidnederland, and Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy, and Opera national de Lorraine.

Of special note are three acclaimed orchestral engagements from the 2009-10 season: leading the Orquestra de São Paulo, one of Brazil’s most celebrated classical music ensembles, on its third United States coast-to- coast tour, conducting the New World Symphony’s 2009 Ives Festival by special invitation from Michael Tilson Thomas, and substituting on very short notice to conduct the Tangle-wood Music Center Orchestra in performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group. In the opera arena, Maestro Abdullah has guested with such esteemed companies as the Atlanta Opera, where he conducted Cosi fan tutte, and the Théâtre du Châtelet de Paris, where he led sold-out performances of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, Mr. Abdullah made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 conducting Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. The New York Times lauded this first performance at the Metropolitan Opera as “…a confident performance… impressively responsive to the singers during their long stretches of orchestra-accompanied recitative.”

Born in Indiana, Kazem Abdullah began his music studies at the age of ten. He graduated from the Cincinnati Con-servatory of Music, with a Bachelor of Music in Clarinet. He then studied at the University of Southern California before joining The New World Symphony as a clarinetist under Michael Tilson Thomas for two seasons, after which he continued his musical studies at The Peabody Institute of the John Hopkins University. Mr. Abdullah served as Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a three-year post to which he was appointed by Music Director James Levine. In addition to Levine, while at the Met he worked with conductors such as Louis Langree, Kirill Petrenko, Lorin Maazel, and Fabio Luisi. A recipient of a prestigious 2010 Solti Foundation U.S Career Assistance Award, Abdullah was named #4 by The Daily Beast on its 2009 list of “Young Rock Stars of the Conducting World.” Mr. Abdullah’s con-ducting teachers include Jorma Panula, Gustav Meier, Stefan Asbury, Bernard Haitink, and James Levine.

For more information on Maestro Abdullah, to download publicity photos, view his calendar and other materials, please visit his website at www.kazemabdullah.com.

Fast facts


Indianapolis, Indiana


Interlochen Arts Academy

Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

University of Southern California

Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins

by the numbers

Beethoven Coriolan Overture Duration (mins)

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 Duration (mins)

Farrenc Symphony No. 3 Duration (Mins)