Winner of the 2016 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, Karina Canellakis has rapidly gained international recognition as one of today's most dynamic and exciting young American conductors. Praised for her technical and lyrical command of the music, Canellakis has received glowing critical endorsements of her performances since first making headlines in 2014 filling in last-minute for Jaap van Zweden with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Shostakovich’s 8th symphony. She served for two seasons as assistant conductor of the Dallas Symphony and recently concluded her tenure at the end of the 2015/16 season.
Highlights of the 2016/17 season feature her European debuts with the Swedish Radio Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, Trondheim, Kristiansand and Mälmo symphony orchestras, as well as North American debuts including the Toronto, Vancouver, and Milwaukee symphony orchestras. She conducts Verdi’s Requiem at the Zurich Opera House, and opera projects including the world premiere of David Lang's the loser at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and Peter Maxwell Davies’ new and final opera The Hogboon with the Luxembourg Philharmonic. In addition, she has been re-invited to conduct subscription programs with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony and North Carolina Symphony.
In 2015/16, Karina Canellakis made debuts with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and conducted a fully staged production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro with the Curtis Opera Theatre and Curtis Symphony Orchestra at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. In summer 2016, she made debuts with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, National Repertory Orchestra, Grand Teton Music Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival in New York leading the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and Festival della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca, Italy. She has also guest conducted the symphony orchestras of Houston and Colorado, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Lukes’, Chautauqua Festival Orchestra and the Grant Park Festival Orchestra at Millenium Park in Chicago. As the assistant conductor in Dallas, she conducted more than 30 concerts per season with the Dallas Symphony, including innovative programs on the Remix Series, standard repertoire on the "DSO On the Go" series, Youth and Family concerts, and various other concerts geared towards specific audiences in the community.
Already known to many in the classical music world for her virtuoso violin playing, Canellakis was initially encouraged to pursue conducting by her mentor Sir Simon Rattle while she was playing regularly in the Berlin Philharmonic for two years as a member of their Orchester-Akademie. In addition to appearing frequently as soloist with various North American orchestras, she subsequently played regularly in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for over three years, and appeared on several occasions as guest concertmaster of the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway. She spent many summers performing at the Marlboro Music Festival, and her approach to conducting is firmly rooted in her detailed and dedicated experience as a chamber musician. She plays a 1782 Mantegazza violin on generous loan to her from a private patron.
Canellakis is a recipient of a 2015 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award. She was the winner of the 2013 Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship and served as a conducting fellow at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center in summer 2014.
Born and raised in New York City, Karina Canellakis speaks German, French and Italian, and is a graduate of both the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School.