A conductor equally at home in opera and in concert, Erik Nielsen has been Chief Conductor of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra (Bilbao Orkesta Sinfonikoa) since 2015, and served as Music Director of the Theatre Basel from 2016-2018, where he continues to be a regular guest conductor of the Sinfonieorchester Basel. He has also had a decade-long association with the Frankfurt Opera, starting as Korrepetitor (pianist) and later as a Kapellmeister from 2008-2012, amassing a large repertoire from Monteverdi to Lachenmann. Prior to moving to Frankfurt, Nielsen was a harpist in the Berlin Philharmonic’s Orchester-Akademie.
Highlights of Nielsen’s 20/21 season include his debut with the Dutch National Opera leading the Rotterdam Philharmonic in new production of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex paired with the world premiere of From ‘Antigone’ by composer Samy Moussa, debuts with the Galicia Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Tyrolean Festival Erl, and his return to Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos.
Recent engagements include Krenek’s Karl V for the Bayerische Staatsoper; Oedipus Rex, Il prigioniero and Pelléas et Mélisande at the Semper Oper Dresden; Peter Grimes and Trojahn’s Oreste at the Opernhaus Zürich; Billy Budd and Lachenmann’s Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern in Frankfurt; Usandizaga’s Mendi Mendiyan; Bach’s St. John’s Passion and Salome in Bilbao; and The Rake’s Progress in Budapest; in addition to concerts in Oslo, Manchester, Stockholm, Madrid, Strasbourg, Lisbon, Basel, Aspen Music Festival, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts.
A pianist since an early age, Erik Nielsen studied conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music and received his bachelor’s degree in both oboe and harp performance at The Juilliard School. He was the 2009 winner of the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Fellowship awarded by the Solti Foundation U.S.