Gerard Korsten, Leader

“In 1987 I was invited to join the COE as co-leader.
It was an honour and privilege to meet all these wonderful and outstanding musicians from all over Europe.
Joining the COE was a turning point in my musical life! Making music and learning from great conductors and soloists. Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and many more.
Violinist Gidon Kremer had a great influence on my way of playing and interpreting music.
I also had the special opportunity to conduct a few concerts with the orchestra.
There are so many memorable moments, especially my last concert as co-leader. A concert in Ferrara with my dear friend, first horn Jonathan Williams as soloist.”


Born in Pretoria, Gérard Korsten began his career as an orchestral violinist. After studies with Ivan Galamian at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia he went to Salzburg, where he was taught by Sándor Végh, becoming concertmaster and then Assistant Music Director of Camerata Salzburg, of which Végh was Principal Conductor. In 1987 Korsten joined the Chamber Orchestra of Europe as its concertmaster; over his nine years with the ensemble he built close working relationships with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Heinz Holliger.

Gérard Korsten has conducted over 100 orchestras in 24 countries with orchestras such as the Adelaide Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Orchestre National de Lyon, Scottish and Swedish Chamber Orchestras, as well as the SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg.

Gérard Korsten’s operatic appearances to date have included: Teatro alla Scala, Milan (Le nozze di Figaro); Opéra National de Lyon (Ariadne auf Naxos, Idomeneo, La traviata, Siegfried, La Veuve joyeuse and Henze’s L’Upupa); Bregenz Festival (Simon Laks’ L’Hirondelle inattendue, Die Zauberflöte, Le Rossignol, Der Schauspieldirektor); Deutsche Oper Berlin (La traviata); English National Opera (Aida); Glyndebourne Festival (Così fan tutte, Albert Herring); Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Così fan tutte); Netherlands Opera (Così fan tutte); New National Theatre, Tokyo (Tosca); Royal Opera Stockholm (Don Giovanni) and Hungarian State Opera (Don Pasquale). At the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, he did not only conduct the Italian premieres of Richard Strauss’ Die ägyptische Helena, Weber’s Euryanthe, Delius’ A Village Romeo and Juliet and Schubert’s Alfonso und Estrella, but also repertoire classics such as Aida, Carmen, Die Fledermaus, Die Zauberflöte, Don Pasquale, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, Tosca, Un ballo in maschera and more recently Don Giovanni.

He has served as Principal Conductor of the London Mozart Players, the South African State Theatre in Pretoria and the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra in Sweden. From 1999 to 2005 he was Music Director of the Orchestra del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari in Sardinia. After 13 years as Principal Conductor of Austria’s Symphonieorchester Vorarlberg Bregenz, Gérard Korsten was awarded Conductor Laureate in summer 2018.

Gérald Korsten’s Arthaus DVD of Le nozze di Figaro, recorded at La Scala with a cast led by Diana Damrau and Ildebrando d’Arcangelo, was awarded a Diapason D’Or in France and designated Critic’s Choice by US magazine Opera News. His other recordings include Tchaikovsky’s Serenade and Souvenir de Florence with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Deutsche Grammophon), orchestral works by Crusell, Lindblad and Eggert (Naxos), La Veuve joyeuse (DVD, Erato) and a number of live recordings with the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari: Die ägyptische Helena, Euryanthe and Lucia di Lammermoor on CD (Dynamic) and, on DVD, Alfonso und Estrella (Dynamic) and Don Pasquale (Arthaus).

Gérard Korsten has two daughters and lives in both Zurich and Arezzo (Tuscany) with his wife, Italian soprano Eva Mei.


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