Nazanin Aghakhani, an expert on contemporary opera, is well known for her grandios last minute jump-ins, for both symphonic and operatic repertoire. She has been referred to „a conductor without any fear, having nerves like steel“ . She also gained worldwide recognition regarding her wide range of repertoire, starting from the late 17th century and her special passion for complex and newly written scores – leaving Aghakhani a unique specialist between „Wiener Klassik“ and contemporary music.
Nazanin was born in Vienna, Austria, to a family of Persian heritage, combined with Russian ancestry. After professional studies of classical piano at the State Conservatory in Vienna, winning several national competitions as a young soloist and giving piano-recitals, she continued as a conductor at the University of Music and performing Arts in Vienna, at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and finally at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki where she took her Master’s Degree in opera and symphonic conducting (with distinction) at the Sibelius Academy in 2008.
Her most inspirational mentors throughout decades shaping here musical perception were (order of chronological appearance) Karl Barth, Thomas Christian David, Meira Farkas, Yuji Yuasa, Leopold Hager, Erwin Acel, Howard Arman, Jorma Panula, Lars-Erik Rosell, Alan Gilbert, Manfred Honeck, Paul Mägi, Anders Eby, Leif Segerstam, Daniel Barenboim and Valery Gergiev.
Aghakhani is well recognized for her engagement to building bridges between well known classical repertoire and the fields of contemporary music – collaborating acitvely with living composers on a regular basis is of great importance to her. She herself studied also electro acoustic composition with Bill Brunson and Fredrik Hedelin in Stockholm, which widened her musical and artistic horizon immensely.
Aghakhani’s recent engagements as a conductor included cooperations with orchestras, emsebles and festivals throughout Europe such as Musica Nova Festival, Salzburger Festspiele, Wien Modern, Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Kungliga Operan Stockholm, Norrköping Orchestra Sweden, Kuopio Symphony Orchestra and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra Finland, Aarhus Symphony Denmark, Ensemble Platypus, RSO Wien, as well as Neubrandenburgische Philharmonie Deutschland and Staatsorchester Braunschweig.
Aghakhani was chief conductor and artistic director of the Academic Symphony Orchestra in Munich between 2010 and 2012 – the first woman appointed in the orchestra’s history. She was also invited as the first and only woman in history ever in Iran to conduct the Tehran Symphony Orchestra in 2010.
Besides performing as an orchestral conductor, Aghakhani has recorded several albums as a pianist introducing her own music in a special improvisational form – a hommage to her Oriental heritage. She has been invited as a jury member for competitions and as a conducting teacher in symphonic and operatic genre within Europe and Asia regularly – also for several years Nazanin Aghakhani has been giving lectures on „Women in Lead“, recent appearences on radio and TV made her a leading voice regarding subjects as „Equality vs. Power Abuse within the Art Industry“.
Recent highlights included her debut with the Volksoper Wien (jump-in for contemporary opera „Limonen aus Sizilien“ by Manfred Trojahn) and concerts with the Royal Philharmonic Stockholm. In March 2018 she gave her concert debut as both, conductor and composer, at the Musikverein in Vienna – the first woman in history to perform with the Muskgymnasium Wien, premiering „Azizam“ in Farsi language (both a-capella and choir/orchestra version) written by Aghakhani herself.
„After Nazanin Aghakhani had left the concert hall together with all her musicians, the whole space was still filled with her enormous mental storm and her musical electricity she had then just created. Her precise beating technique combined with well-thought phrasing leaves no listener untouched.“Helsingin Sanomat/Finland on world premiere of opera „Fatal Lessons“ by Ville Raasakka
Creating is evolving. Since I was 8 years old I would find joy in jotting down melodies, compose & make use of the most international language to express myself. Writing music is as essential as writing words – in bringing sounds into form I feel even more so connected to the world – although the process of creation craves absolute solitude; at least in my case.
As a conductor I act as an ambassador of someone else’s tone-poetry: I sculpt sound, I perform and inspire others to do the same. As a composer I create in a different way: I paint in order to inspire others to bring this written music to life with their own artistical skills.
A paradoxon is to be found here: Total silence and abstinence of people is needed for this very complex creative processes of composing – in order to create sound and reach people’s hearts & souls intensely.
Having started conducting masterclasses and the weekly YouTube tutorials called „Nazanin´s Conducting Secrets“, has become for me a life long mission. Passing on to the next generation should be our duty. Teaching always shows us our own limitations that we should challenge and trespass…and it is so much fun to interact with people who are hungry for the same artistical matter! Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified with each new tutorial – send an email to my management in the contact form on this page, for the latest news on the next upcoming masterclass.