Born in England in 1953, Jan Latham-Koenig OBE is a true European, being of French, Danish and Polish origin. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London and started his career as a pianist after winning numerous prizes as a pianist and conductor, as well as the “Gulbenkian Fellowship”. In 1976, he founded a versatile ensemble that allowed him to perform a wide variety of original programmes. In 1982, he decided to devote himself wholly to conducting and performed on Scandinavian radio before accepting engagements with all the leading European orchestras.
At the same time, he began exploring the opera repertoire in Italy. In 1988, he made a sensational debut with Macbeth at the Vienna State Opera and became its permanent guest conductor from 1991, giving around one hundred performances. He now regularly conducts in the world’s leading opera houses, including Covent Garden, the Opèra National Paris-Bastille and the operas of Berlin, Hamburg, Rome, Lisbon and Santiago in Chile. From 1989 to 1992, he was musical director of the Orchestra of Porto, which he founded at the request of the Portuguese government.
Jan Latham-Koenig is greatly in demand as a guest conductor. He has appeared with orchestras world-wide: in America, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and St Paul Chamber Orchestra; in Japan, with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and Tokyo Symphony; in France, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine; in Europe with orchestras including the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Danish and Swedish Radio orchestras, Stockholm Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and the orchestras of Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk and Sudwestfunk in Germany.
He performs regularly in Italy, including with the orchestras of the Teatro Comunale in Florence and RAI Turin. In 2001 he performed several times with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and returned in December for a series of concerts featuring the Beethoven Piano Concertos with Evgeny Kissin. Other prominent visits last year included a return to the Teatro Municipal in Santiago, where he conducted the Chilean premiere of Peter Grimes, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and Ensemble Kanazawa, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.
Jan Latham-Koenig was Music Director of both the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and Opéra national du Rhin from 1997 to 2002. Recent productions included Turandot and Elektra, and the ballet The Prince of the Pagodas. His production of Dialogues des Carmelites won the Claude-Rostand prize for Best Regional Opera production (1999) and also the Diapason d’or for the best opera video (2001). His other Strasbourg productions included Macbeth, La Bohème, Peter Grimes, Tristan, Pelléas et Mélisande, Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt and Carmen.
In 1999 he brought the orchestra to the Barbican for a Gala concert in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Council of Europe and, after performances in Savonlinna, returned to London with the Opéra du Rhin to perform his much-praised Dialogues des Carmelites at the BBC Proms. Other opera performances abroad have included Henze’s Venus & Adonis (Genoa), Tosca (Bastille), Dialogues, Jenufa and Hamlet (Royal Danish Opera) and I Lombardi (Santiago, Chile). He regularly performed with the Orchestra at Châtelet, Baden-Baden and in other venues in France.
Jan Latham-Koenig is Music Director of the Wrocław Philharmonic in Poland and the Wratislavia Cantans Festival. He is also Artistic Director of the Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte di Montepulciano and of the Young Janacek Philharmonic.
In 2005, Jan Latham-Koenig was appointed Music Director at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. He is the first British conductor to hold such a post at one of the major Italian theatres, though he previously held the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in the ‘90’s. 2005 also saw visits to the New Japan Philharmonic and the Teatro Regio in Torino. His production of ‘King Roger’ in Palermo was hailed a critical success throughout Europe as was his first production this year, Barber’s ‘Vanessa’. He also returned to Santiago for ‘Turn of the Screw’ and ‘Il Trovatore’ and highlights of 2007 include Beatrice et Benedict at Chicago Opera Theater.
This year saw him appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of the Filarmonica del Teatro Regio di Torino and last month he returned to La Fenice in Venice for concerts.