Erik Nielsen became Chief Conductor of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra in September 2015 and took up the position of Music Director of Theater Basel from the 16/17 season. He joined the Frankfurt Opera in 2002 and was Kapellmeister there from 2008 – 2012. Prior to moving to Frankfurt, he played harp in the Berlin Philharmonic as a member of its Orchester-Akademie. He studied conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and received his bachelor’s degree as a double-major in oboe and harp at The Juilliard School in New York. In the summer 2007 he attended Tanglewood, conducting orchestral and chamber concerts and assisting James Levine with Don Carlos, and he returned in 2008 to conduct a production of Mahagonny. In September 2009 he was awarded the $25,000 Solti Fellowship by the US Solti Foundation. In March 2010 he made his US opera début with Ariadne auf Naxos for Boston Lyric Opera which was followed by The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.
During his years in Frankfurt Erik Nielsen conducted a wide repertoire, ranging from Handel to Reimann (the German premiere of Medea). In January 2009 Erik Nielsen made his London debut conducting The Magic Flute for English National Opera.
In the US, he has conducted the New World Symphony, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen, and the Youth Symphony of Kansas City. His European conducting début took place in Victoria Hall with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra.
Recent and future operatic engagements include The Magic Flute for Rome Opera, a double-bill of Oedipus Rex and Il prigioniero, Lohengrin, Hartmann’s Simplicus Simplicissimus, Henze’s Gisela! and We Come to the River at the Semper Oper Dresden, La Traviata at Opera Hedeland Festival in Denmark and for Deutsche Oper Berlin, Cosi fan Tutte with Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos, Lisbon, Reimann’s Lear for Malmo Opera, Otello, Giulio Cesare, Billy Budd and Ariane et Barbe-bleu in Frankfurt, Peter Grimes and Trojahn’s Oedipe for Opernhaus Zürich, The Merchant of Venice at the Bregenz Festival, the world premeiere of Dai Fujikawa’s Solaris at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, La forza del destino in Luxembourg, Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt in Bilbao, and The Rake’s Progress for Hungarian State Opera. As Music Director in Basel he has conducted Macbeth, Die Tote Stadt, Don Giovanni, Lucio Silla and Elektra and in autumn 2018 will open the season with Pelleas et Melisande.
Concert engagements include performances with Chicago Civic Orchestra, Kölner Kammerorchester, Orquesta Sinfónica de Bilbao, Orquesta Sinfonica Castilla y Leon, Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguesa in Lisbon, RTE National Symphony Orchestra., Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Philharmonie Südwestfalen, Ensemble Intercontemporain,,Ensemble Modern, Junge Deustche Philharmonie, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Interlochen Arts Camp, the Royal Northern Sinfonia.