DSO assistant Canellakis gets $25,000 Solti Award

03.29.16
Karina Canellakis
The Dallas Morning News

Karina Canellakis, assistant conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for the last two seasons, has been named winner of the 2016 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award. In addition to the $25,000 cash prize, the award includes door-opening introductions within the orchestral and operatic fields and access to mentors.

Administered by the Solti Foundation U.S., the annual award honors the legacy of the eponymous conductor, most remembered for his legendary 22 years as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Canellakis was a previous winner of a smaller Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award.

Founded in 2000, the Solti Foundation is the foremost U.S. organization devoted to furthering the development and career prospects of young conductors. A jury of industry professionals picks the winners based on resumes, video and audio recordings and proposals for use of the cash awards.

Jonathan Martin, president and CEO of the Dallas Symphony, says, “[Music director] Jaap van Zweden and I congratulate our talented assistant conductor Karina Canellakis on the Georg Solti Fellowship. From the time of her selection by van Zweden to join the DSO, her professional development has been rapid, and we are thrilled that she is being recognized as a conductor on the rise.”

Canellakis, who is leaving the DSO position when her contract ends this summer, says the money will be most helpful in building her own library of orchestral scores and parts.

“When you leave an orchestra,” she says, “you no longer have access to librarians to provide you with the best editions. You have to purchase your own library, and it’s unbelievably expensive. The finest edition of the Mahler Ninth Symphony, which I conducted recently, is $200. It really adds up.”

Canellakis made a sensation as an impeccable late replacement for van Zweden in two DSO programs including the formidably difficult Seventh and Eighth symphonies of Dmitri Shostakovich. She has also stepped in as a late substitute with the Cincinnati Symphony and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, also to great acclaim.

With the DSO she has also conducted innovative ReMix concerts and standard repertory in the DSO on the GO concerts in suburban communities, plus Youth and Family concerts. She’s booked for a program in the 2016-2017 classical subscription series.

A New York native, Canellakis holds an undergraduate degree in violin from the Curtis Institute and a master’s in orchestral conducting from the Juilliard School in New York. She was a conducting fellow at the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Music Center in the summer of 2014.

Of her time in Dallas, Canellakis says, “These two years have been the most pivotal of my life, as a musician, and also as a person. There has been an identity shift for me. I was a violinist before and a young conductor with virtually no real professional experience. This job has given me a safe place to grow, and a tremendous amount of concerts of my own with the orchestra.

“I have felt from the very first moments of my audition for the job a very strong musical connection with this orchestra. That has been fortified by the personal relationships I’ve established with the players. It’s an exciting time, but also a sad moment, because I love this orchestra very much.”

Read the rest of the review here