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My goal as a conductor is to liberate the musicians and let them make music. That is very important, because a conductor doesn’t make a single sound on their own. As a conductor, if musicians feel that you are concentrating on a conversation with the composer, it gives them the incentive to make music in a profound way.

KAZUSHI ONO

Kazushi Ono’s musical personality was formed by the cultures of Japan, where he was born, and Europe, where he studied. His work reflects both influences, and crosses styles and forms, from Baroque to new commissions and from orchestral to opera.

 

His passion, musical intellect and ability to communicate meaning across languages and cultures have led to longstanding relationships around the world. He recently took over as Music Director of Brussels Philharmonic and continues to serve as Music Director of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of New National Theatre Tokyo.

A favourite of orchestral players, he has held positions as Music Director continuously for more than 30 years, leaving lasting musical legacies with orchestras including Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, La Monnaie, Opéra National de Lyon, Arturo Toscanini Philharmonic and Barcelona Symphony Orchestra.

He regularly guest conducts orchestras such as Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Opéra de Paris, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Ono’s wide-ranging experience of Slavic, Latin and Germanic cultures has shaped a profound musical understanding. He inherited the German tradition from his mentor Wolfgang Sawallisch and has conducted almost all the Wagner repertoire, as well as developing a deep insight into bel canto during his studies with Giuseppe Patané.

His curiosity for repertoire also takes him to new music and projects. He often commissions composers and has collaborated several times with Mark-Anthony Turnage, including on Silent Cities, Hibiki (which won a Royal Philharmonic Society award) and Time Flies. Recent commissions at NNTT include Asters by Akira Nishimura and Dai Fujikura’s A Dream of Armageddon.

He has conducted the world premieres of Toshio Hosokawa’s Hanjo in Aix-en-Provence, Arnulf Hermann’s Der Mieter at Oper Frankfurt, Kaija Saariaho’s Emilie at Opéra de Lyon and Salvatore Sciarrino’s Il suono e il tacere with RAI in Turin, as well as new productions of Ravel’s L’heure espagnole and L’Enfant et les sortilèges at Glyndebourne and Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher at Opéra de Lyon. He has worked on ambitious collaborations with boundary-breaking directors such as Dmitri Tcherniakov, Romeo Castellucci, Pierre Audi, William Kentridge and Mariusz Treliński.

Ono is a vocal advocate for the role of culture in all our lives. His tenure in Zagreb coincided with the war in Croatia and brought home the human necessity of music in difficult times. He takes an active part in the social and educational programmes of his organisations and often performs in hospitals and care homes alongside young musicians. He launched the inclusive SaLaD Music Festival in Tokyo to encourage people of all ages into the concert hall.

In 2017 he was awarded ‘Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by French cultural minister Françoise Nyssen, adding to the prestigious Asahi Prize in January 2015, for his contribution to the development and progress of Japanese society.

Music Director

Brussels Philharmonic

Kazushi Ono begins his tenure as Music Director of Brussels Philharmonic in October 2022. He conducted the orchestra for the first time only as recently as 2021 but the rapport was immediate. He and the orchestra share the same musical values – an appreciation of the great repertoire and the traditions of concert-going alongside a ceaseless search for new music and audiences, all combined with integrity and honest music making.

 

His new position marks the start of a journey of discovery with the orchestra, but it’s also a homecoming of sorts – he was previously Music Director at La Monnaie and has kept a home in the city. He says: ‘It’s always a bit like coming home to Brussels. I feel the exciting and eclectic flow of European arts.’

Music Director

Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra

Kazushi Ono has served as Music Director of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra since 2013. The strength of their relationship is such that his contract has recently been renewed until 2026. TMSO is one of the country’s finest symphony orchestras, sharing with Ono a refined combination of Asian and European musical sensibilities – their European tour in 2016 was highly praised. In Tokyo, they have three different homes – Suntory Hall, Bunka Kaikan and Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, serving two subscription audiences with both classic masterpieces and world premieres.

 

A passionate advocate for classical music being for the benefit of everyone, Ono leads the orchestra’s innovative SaLaD Music Festival to encourage young children into the concert hall. During the pandemic, he and the orchestra commissioned world-leading research into orchestral playing, developing protocols for returning to the concert platform safely.

Artistic Director

New National Theatre, Tokyo

Kazushi Ono has served as Artistic Director of New National Theatre Tokyo since 2018, strengthening its reputation as one of Asia’s leading opera houses. In his programming he balances well-known classics with commissioning important new works and supports the creation of new Japanese work, such as Akira Nishimura’s Asters, Dai Fujikura’s A Dream of Armageddon and Keiichiro Shibuya’s Android opera Super Angels, which used innovative technology.

 

He conducts two operas every season at NNTT, one of which is always a new production, and invites the world’s finest conductors, directors and creatives to collaborate throughout the year. He says, ‘I believe that the potential of opera as a means of expression is going to become increasingly meaningful in terms of global-scale human connections and I am positive that the NNTT will play a significant role as we enter this era.’

Brussles Philharmonic Orchestra
Copy of 2021 Brussels Philharmonic _ Kazushi Ono (c) Wouter Van Vaerenbergh (159)_more hea

Kazushi Ono is the definitive musical citizen of the world. He was born in Tokyo, studied in Munich and forged his early career in Zagreb, Karlsruhe and Tokyo. These influences shaped an inquiring and profound musical intellect and an ability to communicate meaning across languages and cultures. He enjoys deep and longstanding relationships with the finest orchestras around the world.His passion and curiosity for repertoire take him to the standard classics but also to new music and he often commissions new orchestral works and operas. He is a vocal advocate for the role of culture in all our lives and works actively within the communities which his three orchestras serve.

When I was almost three years old, my father bought me an LP of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the 'Eroica'. I still remember the shock of the first chords as they came out of the stereo when he put the needle on the record. That was my first meeting with music. I was fascinated. My parents say that I used to dance around to the music with chopsticks in my hands.

I started to study the piano. Practice was boring, but the three-dimensional sound of the orchestra took me somewhere else. I’ll never forget hearing a live orchestra for the first time. I almost jumped out of my seat towards the orchestra. My first experience at the opera was La Traviata when I was almost ten. Even at that age I understood that it was a tragedy – I was heartbroken. I learnt that music is something that takes us to other worlds, other dimensions. I realised that this is the secret of music and I decided then to master it.

KAZUSHI ONO

Kazushi Ono - ©Herbie Yamaguchi .jpeg

A LIFE IN MUSIC

MUSICAL RELATIONSHIPS

Brussles Philharmonic Orchestra

Music Director

Brussels Philharmonic

Kazushi Ono begins his tenure as Music Director of Brussels Philharmonic in October 2022. He conducted the orchestra for the first time only as recently as 2021 but the rapport was immediate. He and the orchestra share the same musical values – an appreciation of the great repertoire and the traditions of concert-going alongside a ceaseless search for new music and audiences, all combined with integrity and honest music making.

 

His new position marks the start of a journey of discovery with the orchestra, but it’s also a homecoming of sorts – he was previously Music Director at La Monnaie and has kept a home in the city. He says: ‘It’s always a bit like coming home to Brussels. I feel the exciting and eclectic flow of European arts.’

Music Director

Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra

Kazushi Ono has served as Music Director of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra since 2013. The strength of their relationship is such that his contract has recently been renewed until 2026. TMSO is one of the country’s finest symphony orchestras, sharing with Ono a refined combination of Asian and European musical sensibilities – their European tour in 2016 was highly praised. In Tokyo, they have three different homes – Suntory Hall, Bunka Kaikan and Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, serving two subscription audiences with both classic masterpieces and world premieres.

 

A passionate advocate for classical music being for the benefit of everyone, Ono leads the orchestra’s innovative SaLaD Music Festival to encourage young children into the concert hall. During the pandemic, he and the orchestra commissioned world-leading research into orchestral playing, developing protocols for returning to the concert platform safely.

Artistic Director

New National Theatre, Tokyo

Kazushi Ono has served as Artistic Director of New National Theatre Tokyo since 2018, strengthening its reputation as one of Asia’s leading opera houses. In his programming he balances well-known classics with commissioning important new works and supports the creation of new Japanese work, such as Akira Nishimura’s Asters, Dai Fujikura’s A Dream of Armageddon and Keiichiro Shibuya’s Android opera Super Angels, which used innovative technology.

 

He conducts two operas every season at NNTT, one of which is always a new production, and invites the world’s finest conductors, directors and creatives to collaborate throughout the year. He says, ‘I believe that the potential of opera as a means of expression is going to become increasingly meaningful in terms of global-scale human connections and I am positive that the NNTT will play a significant role as we enter this era.’

BIOGRAPHY

© Kazushi Ono 2022