The succession of images on the stage is mirrored by the distinctive musical direction of Justin Brown, who manages the constant stylistic shifts to great effect.
- Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung (Wahnfried, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, January 2017) -
Internationally acclaimed in both the symphonic and operatic repertoire, Justin Brown is General Music Director of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Germany, and Music Director Laureate of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in the United States.
In the 2018-19 season Mr. Brown debuts at the Deutsche Oper Berlin conducting Wagner’s Lohengrin and with the Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy. At the Badische Staatstheater Karlsruhe he leads new productions of Strauss’ Elektra directed by Keith Warner and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen directed by Yuval Sharon, plus further performances of Tobias Kratzer’s production of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung and numerous concerts with the Badische Staatskapelle.
The 2017-18 season started with his debut at the Grand Théâtre de Genève conducting Langer’s Figaro Gets a Divorce. He completed the new Karlsruhe Ring Cycle with Götterdämmerung (directed by Tobias Kratzer) and returned to Karlsruhe and Alabama for symphony concerts. He closed out the old year with the Orchestra of Opera North in a flamboyant Viennese programme and then returned to Oper Frankfurt to lead performances of Glinka’s Ivan Susanin.
During the 2016-17 Brown continued the new Karlsruhe Ring Cycle with premieres of Die Walküre (directed by Yuval Sharon) and Siegfried (directed by Thorleifur Arnarsson). In addition, he commissioned and gave the world premiere of Avner Dorman’s first opera Wahnfried (directed by Keith Warner), which was hailed as a masterpiece by the opera press worldwide. He also returned to the Calgary Philharmonic in Canada and made his debut with the Tatarstan National Orchestra in Kazan and the the orchestra of Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon, as well as conducting a number of symphonic programmes with the Badische Staatskapelle.
In the 2015-2016 season at the Badisches Staatstheater, Brown conducted a new production of Tristan und Isolde (directed by Christopher Alden) and the first part of the new Karlsruhe Ring Cycle, Das Rheingold, directed by David Hermann, and numerous symphonic programmes. He also revives the highly acclaimed productions of Parsifal and Falstaff. As a guest conductor, he made his acclaimed debut with Welsh National Opera conducting the world premiere of Elena Langer’s Figaro Gets a Divorce, directed by David Pountney, who also wrote the libretto. Further guest engagements included debuts with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in Canada and Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais in Brazil.
In six seasons as Music Director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Brown and the ASO received three first-place ASCAP awards in 2010, 2012, and 2013, and the John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music in 2011. In addition to commissioning eleven new works from eight composers, Brown conducted major works by many distinguished contemporary composers such as Elliott Carter, George Crumb, John Adams, Peter Lieberson and Steve Reich. The Alabama Symphony’s artistic growth also led to Brown’s triumphant and “long overdue” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker) debut with the orchestra at Carnegie Hall in May, 2012, as part of the second annual Spring For Music Festival. His legacy includes the institution of a composer-in-residence program as well as the founding of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra.
As guest conductor, Justin Brown has worked with many of the world’s top orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony; the Oslo Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic and Swedish Chamber Orchestra; the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Symphony, and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse; the Cincinnati, Colorado, Indianapolis, Dallas Symphonies, and the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra of San Diego; the Malaysian Philharmonic, São Paulo Symphony, Sydney Symphony and the Tokyo Philharmonic.
Since beginning his opera career at the English National Opera and Scottish Opera, Mr. Brown has conducted at Covent Garden, Santa Fe, La Monnaie, Staatsoper Stuttgart, Oper Frankfurt, Opéra de Nantes, Opéra de Strasbourg, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos in Lisbon, and the Norwegian Opera. In December 2010, he made his Bavarian State Opera (Munich) debut with L’Elisir d’amore. Since becoming music director of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe in 2008, Justin Brown has been recognized for his expansion of the orchestra’s repertoire through a range of diverse programming. Under Brown’s leadership, the Staatstheater received the 2012 German Publisher’s Award for innovative programming and commitment to contemporary music. In Opernwelt‘s 2012 year-in-review issue of the finest opera performances in Germany, music critics Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich and Georg-Fredrich Kühn cited Justin Brown for “conductor of the year” in productions of Les Troyens by Berlioz and A Village Romeo and Juliet by Delius. During the last two seasons, Justin Brown’s interpretations of Parsifal, Falstaff, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Krása’s Verbolung im Traum have all received rave reviews in the European press.
Justin Brown’s discography includes the 2013 release of Paul Lansky’s Arches on Bridge Records, a 2012 release of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe on the Pan Classics label, praised by Christian Merlin in Diapason Magazine as “an exemplary account of the intimidating Ninth”. Brown was also recognized with a 2007 Grammy nomination for Best Classical Recording for Peter Lieberson’s The Six Realms (Bridge Records, 2006, also the winner of a 2006 WQXR Gramophone American Award), and an Editor’s Choice from Gramophone Magazine for Gershwin’s complete music for Piano and Orchestra with Anne-Marie McDermott and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (Bridge Records, 2008). Other recordings for Bridge have included works by Carter, Ruders, Gershwin, Dvořák, and Paul Lansky. Brown also conducted a critically acclaimed recording of the Elgar and Barber cello concertos with Anne Gastinel and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on the French label, NAÏVE.
Born in England, Justin Brown studied at Cambridge University and at Tanglewood with Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein. He later served as an assistant to both Bernstein and Luciano Berio. He made his highly acclaimed conducting debut with the British stage première of Bernstein’s Mass. Also in demand as a pianist, Mr. Brown’s performances have been lauded on both sides of the Atlantic. He has played and directed concertos by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich, and performs regularly in chamber music series both in the United States and Germany.
M: +49 (0)171 212 6728
If one wanted to name one constant in the new Karlsruhe Ring, the answer would be very clear: it is the Badische Staatskapelle and its Music Director Justin Brown that impress in the cycle with a well-rounded musical foundation of varied and carefully produced colours that is always very singer-friendly. This bears witness to the great experience the orchestra has with the works of Richard Wagner. Laying it on thick is not Justin Brown’s approach, which is not to say that swelling symphonic dynamics were lacking. Once again in the third part of the Ring he concentrated on achieving fine-grained orchestral playing with enthralling attack, while taking care that the individual instrumental groups were all clearly audible. … Surely very few upper mid-level houses have such a trump card up their sleeve as this orchestra when it comes to performing Wagner on an internationally competitive level.
Das Opernglas (Siegfried, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, March 2017)
Lively instrumentation – injections of accordion and piano – gives cohesion and Justin Brown’s conducting brings a sweeping energy.
- The Guardian (Figaro Gets a Divorce, Welsh National Opera, February 2016) -