Juanjo Mena

Principal Conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival, Juanjo Mena is one of Spain’s most distinguished international conductors.

He has conducted most of the leading orchestras in North America, including the Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Montreal and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Highlights of Mena’a 2018-19 season include numerous performances with the Spanish National Orchestra, performances with the Danish National Symphony, Orchestre National de Lyon, Bamberg Symphony, Orquesta de Córdoba, Bilbao Opera, Dresden Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Bergen Philharmonic, Boston Symphony with Julian Rachlin, Oslo Philharmonic, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Minnesota Orchestra, the Teatro Real Opera, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. During this season, Mena will also direct the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa with their performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio, embark on a tour with the London Philharmonic, and will lead the Cincinnati May Fest as Principal Conductor.

Throughout Europe, Juanjo Mena has been Artistic Director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, Chief Guest Conductor of the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa and Principal Guest Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. He has worked with many prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Milan, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as with all the major orchestras in Spain.

A guest of international festivals, Maestro Mena has appeared at the Stars of White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Hollywood Bowl, Grant Park (Chicago), Tanglewood and La Folle Journée (Nantes). He has led the BBC Philharmonic on tours of Europe and Asia, including performances in Cologne, Munich, Vienna, Madrid, Beijing and Seoul, and performs with them every year at the BBC Proms in London.

His operatic work includes The Flying Dutchman, Salome, Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Fidelio and Erwartung and productions including Eugene Onegin in Genoa, The Marriage of Figaro in Lausanne and Billy Budd in Bilbao.

As Music Director of the BBC Philarmonic, Mena made has made several recordings including a recent release of Ginastera’s orchestral works to mark the composer’s centenary, two discs of works by Manuel de Falla, one of which was a BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month, a Gabriel Pierné release which was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice, and works by Albéniz, Montsalvatge, Weber and Turina which have gained excellent reviews from the specialist music press.  He has also recorded Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony for Hyperion with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, an interpretation which is said to “utterly redefine the terms under which past/current/future Turangalîlas need to be judged”. (Gramophone, October 2012).


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