Erik Nielsen is Kappelmeister of the Frankfurt Opera, where he has conducted since 2002. The young American conductor garnered acclaim at the 2008 Tanglewood Music Center when he replaced James Levine, conducting Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The New York Times stated, “The highlight [of the performance] was Nielsen’s cool, incise and gripping conducting. He drew dynamic playing from the excellent orchestra and seemed at home in a challenging score.” Nielsen has conducted the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and will make his London debut with the English National Opera in 2009.
Prior to his conducting studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, Nielsen received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School with a double major in oboe and harp. At age nineteen, he won the Juilliard Concerto Competition and performed the Strauss Oboe Concerto in his Lincoln Center debut. He played harp in the New York Philharmonic, oboe and harp in the Metropolitan Opera, and held the second harp position in the Berlin Philharmonic. He won second prize in the Lily Laskine Third International Harp Competition in Deauville, France in 1999. As a pianist, Nielsen often collaborates with singers in recital and has accompanied his former oboe teacher, Elaine Douvas, on four recordings.