Kazushi Ono’s musical influence and vision span and connect continents and cultures, with roles as Music Director of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (TMSO) and Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya (OBC) and as Artistic Director of the New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT). He has toured Europe extensively with TMSO, visiting six cities in eleven days in 2015, and brought OBC to Japan in 2019 with a new production of Turandot for NNTT, as well as orchestral concerts.
He is passionate about new music and has commissioned many works and projects, such as Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Hibiki, which premiered at Suntory Hall before featuring at the 2017 BBC Proms. He instigated NNTT’s first commissioning scheme, dedicated to Japanese composers, which has so far included operas Asters by Akira Nishimura (2019) and Dai Fujikura’s A Dream of Armageddon, which premieres in Tokyo in November 2020.
Ono established himself internationally with orchestras such as London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Houston Symphony Orchestra, where his performance of Russian repertoire was described by the Houston Chronicle as being ‘delivered a first-rate concert steeped in stormy emotions, fragile beauty, and wide- screen grandeur’.
From 2008 to 2017, Ono served as Principal Conductor of Opéra National de Lyon, attracting international acclaim with landmark performances of works such as Prokofiev’s The Gamblers, Berg’s Lulu and Wagner’s Parsifal. Recent operatic highlights include Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher, directed by Romeo Castellucci (Ono’s last production in Lyon, which was subsequently revived at La Monnaie), the 2017 premiere of Arnulf Hermann’s Der Mieter at Frankfurt Opera and Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel in Warsaw and at the Aix Festival (directed by Mariusz Treliński).
Before being appointed in Lyon, Kazushi was Music Director of Theatre Royal de la Monnaie (2002–2008, taking up the baton from Antonio Pappano. In 2017 he was awarded ‘Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by French cultural minister Françoise Nyssen, adding to the prestigious Asahi Prize in January 2015, for his contribution to the development and progress of Japanese society.