Daniela Candillari: A Conductor to Watch
Turn your attention, please, to Daniela Candillari, a supremely skilled conductor, composer, and pianist, who takes the podium at two major institutions this spring: At Lyric Opera of Chicago she leads Jack Perla and Jessica Murphy Moo’s heart-wrenching An American Dream, directed by Matthew Ozawa (March 15, 17, 2019) and with Opera Philadelphia, via a joint partnership with Curtis Institute of Music and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, she conducts a new production of Rene Orth and Mark Campbell’s sensitive and spiky Empty the House (May 2-5, 2019).
These two engagements mark the strong end to an outstanding 2018-19 season. Thus far, she has made her LA Opera debut leading two performances of Ellen Reid’s p r i s m, her Hong Kong debut conducting the Asian premiere of Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Angel’s Bone, her Boston debut leading the world premiere of Dan Visconti’s PermaDeath, and has led NOVUS NY of Trinity Wall Street as part of its Bernstein Centennial Celebration.
It’s an impressive season by any measure, though the engagements themselves do not define her so much as the relationships and trust she is building via her exquisite musicianship. Her conducting debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in March 2018 (Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers, directed by Kevin Newbury) made such an impression that Lyric immediately re-engaged her for An American Dream. And through her close work with Julian Wachner (Director of Music, Trinity Church Wall Street), she gained the opportunities to conduct the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY as well as the two LA Opera performances of p r i s m, where her piercing interpretation of the score’s shifting stylistic terrain illuminated its rich psychology. For the 2018 PROTOTYPE Festival, Candillari elicited such precision and elegance from the Bang On A Can All-Stars performing the US premiere of Michael Gordon’s Acquanetta that many audience members were shocked to learn that the behind-the-curtain musicians were live and not studio-recorded. Eric Myers for Opera News affirmed that Candillari “…brought out the most unsettling aspects of the score impressively.” Likewise, her June 2018 debut with Minnesota Opera brought Fellow Travelers into a more intimate setting, where her insightful conducting heightened the “biting political drama.”
Looking ahead to August 2019, Candillari flies to Santa Barbara for Music Academy of the West where she’ll lead the West Coast premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Civil War epic Cold Mountain in a new production by James Darrah. In 2019-20 Candillari makes her debut both with Arizona Opera and Cincinnati Opera.
Candillari has a deep love of storytelling through music that transcends any one instrument, and her compositions have been commissioned by outstanding musicians from the three resident orchestras of the Lincoln Center (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and New York City Ballet). Her unusually sensitive trombone setting led Denson Paul Pollard (principal bass trombone, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) to commission “Sonnet IX” for Trombone Choir (premiered by Lincoln Center Trombones in January 2017). Often inspired by literature, Candillari’s “requiem for loss” Extremely Close (for Bass Trombone & Piano) was based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s eponymous novel and was featured by TED 2016. Poet Tanya Holtland provided the text for Candillari’s Fated for mezzo soprano and piano, commissioned and premiered by the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in November 2017, and Candillari works have been performed by musicians from the symphony orchestras of Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit.
A voracious learner, Candillari holds a Doctorate in Musicology (Universität für Musik, Vienna), a Master of Music in Jazz Studies (Indiana University), and a Master of Music and Bachelor in Piano Performance (Universität für Musik, Graz). She has been both a Fulbright scholar and a TED Fellow, and was lead singer of a successful professional Slovenian funk band as a teenager. She is fluent in five spoken languages (English, German, Serbian, Slovenian, Italian) and is currently studying French and Russian for interest.