Japanese-American conductor Ken Yanagisawa is the Music Director of the Boston Opera Collaborative and the Assistant Conductor of the Boston Civic Symphony. He made his Japanese debut conducting Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with Kansai Nikikai and the Japan Century Symphony Orchestra at the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Japan in February 2023 and will be returning to work with Kansai Nikikai in Fall 2026 to commemorate their 100th opera production to date with a performance of Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito. This summer, Ken will be attending the Aspen Music Festival as a 2024 Aspen Conducting Academy Fellow. Formerly a Conducting Apprentice with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Ken has worked with the National Symphony Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Berlin Academy of American Music, and Plymouth Philharmonic as cover conductor. He has also served as Kapellmeister with the Berlin Opernfest for the past three years, working on productions of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Puccini’s Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi and Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and made his European debut with the Bacau Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2018.
Ken recently completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Orchestral Conducting at Boston University under the guidance of James Burton. As a Doctoral candidate at BU, he conducted the BU orchestras numerous times in concert and served as assistant conductor for the Boston University Symphony Orchestra & Symphonic Chorus performances of Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” and Elgar’s Enigma Variations at Boston Symphony Hall. Ken has also conducted the BU Opera Institute productions of Arnold Schönberg’s Erwartung and Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox, and assisted William Lumpkin on productions of Ned Rorem’s Our Town and Mozart’s Così fan tutte. As the culmination of this 3-year long collaboration, he assisted and conducted the mainstage production of Massenet’s Cendrillon in February 2024.
Ken also holds graduate degrees in conducting from the Manhattan School of Music and a B.A. in music from Yale University. Prior to Yale he attended the New England Conservatory as an Undergraduate Diploma candidate for Oboe Performance under the tutelage of John Ferrillo. His other teachers include George Manahan, William Lumpkin, Bernard Labadie, and Tatsuya Shimono. In masterclasses and festivals, he has been taught by renowned artists and pedagogues such as Leonard Slatkin, Jun Märkl, Gerard Schwarz, Jorma Panula, and Carlos Spierer. He is deeply grateful for all the excellent guidance and mentorship he has received thus far in his life as a musician.
In addition to music performance, Ken has experience working as an artistic administrator for the New York Philharmonic and as a freelance photographer. His work has been published in TIME, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Boston Globe, Playbill, the Chronicle of Higher Education, YES! Weekly and the Yale Daily News.
(As of May 2024)