In this episode of the Music to my Ears podcast, BBC Music Magazine speaks to Karina Canellakis, who is currently chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, and has been recently appointed as principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.


Karina was born and brought up in a very musical family in New York. She initially studied and began her career as a violinist and played in a number of the world’s leading orchestras, and it was while she was playing with the Berlin Philharmonic as a member of its Orchester-Akademie that she was encouraged to take up conducting by Sir Simon Rattle. From that moment, she has never looked back, and has since led top ensembles across the globe, including the Dallas Symphony Orchestra where she held her first post, as assistant conductor. She is equally at home in opera, and has conducted major productions of works by composers ranging from Mozart to Maxwell Davies.

Karina talked to BBC Music Magazine’s deputy editor Jeremy Pound over Zoom during the second period of lockdown, and talked to him about the thrill of of working with contemporary composers, the rarity of female role models and the sheer joy of Wagner.

Recordings featured:

Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf Op. 67 No. 5
Alexander Armstrong (narrator), Richard Casey, Ian Buckle (piano duet)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
Warner Classics 9029575952

Wagner: Die Walküre: Prelude
Wolfgang Windgassen (Tristan), Birgit Nilsson (Isolde), Christa Ludwig (Brangäne), Martti Talvela (King Marke), Eberhard Waechter (Kurwenal), Peter Schreier (Seemann Chor und Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele, Karl Böhm
DG 4497722

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (Act III): 'Denn einer nur freie die Braut'
Vienna Philharmonic/Georg Solti
Decca 4786192

Stephen Sondheim: Sweeney Todd
Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone), Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Paul Daniel
DG 4778554

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