The New York Times
“He drew dynamic playing from the excellent orchestra and seemed at home in a challenging score that blurs distinctions between opera, musical theater and 1920s German cabaret, evoking everything from Bach fugues to the foxtrot, from medieval chant to the tango, from Stravinsky orchestral barbarism to jazzy banjo and saxophone.”
“Of course, the performers wouldn’t be able to show off their talents if it weren’t for the Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Erik Nielsen. The dexterity of the instrumentalists at the BLO never ceases to amaze me. I also appreciated greatly Nielsen’s sensitivity to the actors on stage. Not once did the orchestra overpower the singers, but also not once did the orchestra cripple under the vocalists’ gusto, even during the powerful and bombastic parts where the singers were giving it all that they could muster. Finely attuned to the rest of the show and also to his musicians, Nielsen gave a masterful performance himself, even if it was hidden under the pit with only a gleaming baton occasionally rising above the ground to signify his hard work interpreting Strauss’ operatic masterpiece.”
Erik Nielsen has been Chief Conductor of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra since September 2015 and previously served as Music Director of Theater Basel from 2016–2018. He has also had a decade-long association with the Frankfurt Opera, starting as Korrepetitor and later as Kapellmeister from 2008-2012. Prior to moving to Frankfurt, he played harp in the Berlin Philharmonic as a member of its Orchester-Akademie. Nielsen studied conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music and received his bachelor’s degree in both oboe and harp performance at The Juilliard School.
Project highlights for the 19/20 season include Die Meistersinger in Oslo, a tour of China with the Royal Swedish Opera Orchestra, as well as concerts in Madrid, Manchester, and his return to the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.
Recent engagements include Krenek’s Karl V for the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich; Oedipus Rex, Il prigioniero and Pelléas et Mélisande at the Semper Oper Dresden; Peter Grimes and Trojahn’s Oreste at the Opernhaus Zürich; Billy Budd and Lachenmann’s Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern in Frankfurt; Usandizaga’s Mendi Mendiyan; Bach’s St. John’s Passion and Salome in Bilbao; and The Rake’s Progress in Budapest; in addition to concerts in Oslo, Stockholm, Madrid, Strasbourg, Lisbon, Basel, Aspen and at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Erik Nielsen was the 2009 winner of the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Fellowship awarded by the Solti Foundation U.S.