Yannick picks new Philly assistant

Yannick picks new Philly assistant


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2016

press release:

Philadelphia, July 19, 2016)—Kensho Watanabe has been named assistant conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra, beginning in the 2016-17 season, succeeding Lio Kuokman, whose term ends at the end of the 2015-16 season. The two-year appointment includes conducting select concerts, participating in residency, touring, and educational activities, and serving as a cover conductor. The assistant conductor position also provides assistance to Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin on artistic matters in preparation for and during rehearsals, as well as assisting visiting guest conductors. Watanabe joins the distinguished conducting roster of The Philadelphia Orchestra, including Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denèveand Conductor-in-Residence Cristian Măcelaru.

“The Philadelphia Orchestra is proud to support and develop the best conducting talent, providing a broad array of artistic experiences and community engagement opportunities,” said Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore. “We have full confidence that Kensho will flourish in this role and contribute meaningfully to the music and culture of Philadelphia.”

“Kensho Watanabe’s appointment is the result of a highly involved audition process both on and off the podium with the musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and we are delighted to work with him in his role as assistant conductor,” said Yumi Kendall, Orchestra assistant principal cello and the chair of the Musicians’ Artistic Committee. “His sincere sense of personal and musical growth aligns with how we identify as a group of artists, and we look forward to our collaborations ahead. Congratulations, Kensho!”

“We are thrilled that Kensho will be the new assistant conductor for the Philadelphia Orchestra,” said Roberto Díaz, president of the Curtis Institute of Music. “This is a remarkable opportunity for a young conductor and an incredible vote of confidence from the entire Philadelphia Orchestra. He has the skills and versatility required for a position like this and has already worked closely with Yannick, the mentor conductor for the Curtis conducting program. This is a wonderful boost for Kensho and we are happy he’ll continue to conduct in Philadelphia.”

“The Philadelphia Orchestra has played an enormous part in my development as a musician,” said Watanabe. “I am incredibly honored to join them as assistant conductor, and look forward to continuing my musical growth while supporting Yannick, the musicians, and the organization as a whole.”

yannick with kensho

Credit: Pete Checchia




  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Congrats to Kensho who was, I believe, one of the last students selected by Otto-Werner Mueller to join his class at Curtis around 2009. Lio Kuokman, a native of Macao and a former Mueller student at Curtis, has a bright future both in the USA and Hong Kong.