Kalena Bovell is an American conductor, speaker and poet. She is a 2022-2024 awardee of the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship. After making her professional debut as the Chicago Sinfonietta’s Assistant Conductor in 2015, Bovell has served as a guest conductor at several orchestras around the United States, including the Oakland Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, and the New England Conservatory and is currently the Assistant Conductor at the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and conducts the Memphis Youth Symphony. Coming to classical music later than many of her contemporaries, much of Bovell’s artistic philosophy stems from her unorthodox journey to conducting.
Though Kalena showed promise as a violinist, a lack of musical resources meant her first private lesson would come at 18. Her experience far behind the typical conservatory-trained musician, Kalena found a new home as a conductor, and worked six jobs to fund the many plane tickets, workshops, and conducting lessons required to excel. Hoping to inspire younger musicians, Bovell shares this unique journey to professional conducting as often as possible.