Winner of the 2016 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, Karina Canellakis is internationally acclaimed for her emotionally charged performances, technical command and interpretive depth. She made her European conducting debut in 2015 with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in Graz, Austria, replacing the late Nikolaus Harnoncourt, returning the following June to conduct Concentus Musicus Wien in four symphonies of a Beethoven Cycle.
She first made headlines in 2014 filling in at the last-minute for Jaap van Zweden in Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where she held the position of Assistant Conductor for two seasons.
Karina begins the 2017/18 season with her debut at the BBC Proms in London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and a return to the Opernhaus Zürich to conduct Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Notable debuts this season include the Orchestre de Paris, Wiener Symphoniker, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Guerzenich-Orchester Köln, Bamberger Symphoniker, Orquesta Nacional de España, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, the Hallé Orchestra and Seattle Symphony; alongside reinvitations to the Kungliga Filharmoniska Orkestern, Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester, DR SymfoniOrkestret, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Vancouver Symphony.
Last season, Karina debuted with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, and Toronto and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestras. She conducted the world premiere of David Lang's new opera The Loser at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Peter Maxwell Davies’ new opera The Hogboon with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and a fully staged production of Verdi’s Requiem at the Opernhaus Zürich. Previous seasons have featured orchestral debuts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Cincinnati, Detroit, Houston and San Diego Symphony Orchestras and at the Mostly Mozart Festival, New York, leading the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).
In 2016 Karina conducted Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with the Curtis Opera Theatre at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Already known to many in the classical music world for her virtuoso violin playing, Karina was initially encouraged to pursue conducting by Sir Simon Rattle while she was playing regularly in the Berliner Philharmoniker for two years as a member of their Orchester-Akademie. In addition to appearing frequently as a soloist with various North American orchestras, she subsequently played regularly in the Chicago Symphony for over three years, and appeared on several occasions as guest concertmaster of the Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester in Norway. She spent many summers performing at the Marlboro Music Festival.
She plays a 1782 Mantegazza violin on generous loan to her from a private patron. Karina is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. Her other major mentors have been Alan Gilbert and Fabio Luisi. She was born and raised in New York City and speaks French, German and Italian.