Kazushi Ono’s quiet and calm rehearsal manner exudes qualities of openness and receptivity, while establishing his complete command of the music. The conductor conveys complex messages in performance with effortless expressive gestures and a wisdom informed by his inexhaustible passion for making and exploring music with others. It is in his nature to unwind after conducting by playing through passages from the evening’s programme at the piano. Music, in short, has supplied the essential spirit of life since childhood.
As Music Director of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, while also holding the position of Artistic Director to the New National Theatre Tokyo, Kazushi is in a prime position to commission many new works and projects, which he has done with great success. These include the acclaimed orchestral triumph Hibiki by Mark-Anthony Turnage which premiered at Suntory Hall before featuring at the BBC Proms and the Japanese musical feast that is Akira Nishimura’s new opera Asters. As part of the Olympic Games 2020 cultural committee, Kazushi proposed the idea to present Turandot over the summer 2019, with Alex Ollé as the director and the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra in the pit. It is the first of a two-year international opera project led by Kazushi and developed by the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan and New National Theatre, Tokyo (NNTT) to showcase Japan’s cultural life in the lead up to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Kazushi’s musical flexibility means he is constantly in demand globally. His established reputation among the orchestral world has sent him to orchestras such as Hallé Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Houston Symphony Orchestra, where his acclaimed performance ‘delivered a first-rate concert steeped in stormy emotions, fragile beauty, and wide- screen grandeur’. Recent operatic highlights include Honegger’s Jeanne au Bûcher (directed by Castellucci), his last production in Lyon as its principal conductor to be revived at La Monnaie this season, the acclaimed creation of Hermann’s Der Mieter premiered in Frankfurt Opera and Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel in Warsaw and at the Aix Festival (directed by Treliński).
From 2008 to 2017, Kazushi Ono maintained his position as Principal Conductor of Opéra National de Lyon, during which he attracted international critical acclaim with landmark performances of works such as Prokofiev’s The Gamblers, Berg’s Lulu and Wagner’s Parsifal, Prior to his post in Lyon, Kazushi spent six highly successful seasons as Music Director of Theatre Royal de la Monnaie where he took up the baton from Antonio Pappano. Following his tenure as Principal Conductor in Lyon, he was awarded ‘Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by French cultural minister Françoise Nyssen, a further distinguished title adding to the prestigious Asahi Prize, given in January 2015, for his contribution to Japanese society. This award distinguishes individuals who have greatly contributed to the development and progress of Japanese culture and society at large.