Kensho Watanabe is fast becoming one of the most exciting and versatile young conductors to come out of the United States. Recently recognized as a recipient of a Career Assistance Award by the Solti Foundation U.S., he held the position of assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 2016 to 2019, where he made a critically acclaimed subscription debut, taking over from his mentor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He has since returned there for more subscription programs, including concerts in the 2021-22 season. Other recent highlights include his debuts at the Bravo! Vail Festival and numerous concerts at the Mann and Saratoga performing arts centers, as well as debuts with the London Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Szczecin Philharmonic, Charlotte Symphony and Sarasota Orchestra. He has led numerous operas with the Curtis Opera Theatre, most recently Puccini’s La Rondine and La Bohéme.
An accomplished violinist, Watanabe received his master of music degree from the Yale School of Music and served as substitute violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra from 2012 to 2016. He is also a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Otto-Werner Mueller. Additionally, he holds a bachelor of science degree from Yale College, where he studied molecular, cellular and developmental biology.