Ken Yanagisawa

I think there is a different approach to conducting that needs to be taken depending on the ensemble that one is working with, but inherently the leadership required is the same.


by Cristina Fieraru
August 20, 2023
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This issue just couldn’t be better than this!
So many incredible & different people from one another and yet united by this charming part of the world that we call Opera. Given the fact that Conductors of the future rubric is one of your favorites, we would like to introduce you Ken Yanagisawa. In a conversation with Cristina Fieraru, Ken talks about his experience as an Kapellmeister with the Berlin Opernfest, his beliefs regarding masterclasses, his preference between competitions and auditions, about challenging engagements & many others.
You will also be able to find out how he approaches a new score and what is his piece of advice for young aspiring conductors. It is a very challenging and beautiful path at the same time. Am I right? Is it the same to be a choir conductor or an orchestra conductor?
No need to ask twice, because he will give you the answer right away in this interview! Just keep reading!


Japanese-American conductor Ken Yanagisawa is the Music Director of the Boston Opera Collaborative and the Assistant Conductor of the Boston Civic Symphony. He made his Japanese debut conducting Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with Kansai Nikikai and the Japan Century Symphony Orchestra at the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Japan in February 2023, and most recently conducted a production of Arnold Schönberg’s Erwartung for the Boston University Opera Institute. Formerly a Conducting Apprentice with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Ken has worked with the National Symphony Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Berlin Academy of American Music, and Plymouth Philharmonic as cover conductor. He has also served as Kapellmeister with the Berlin Opernfest for the past three years, working on productions of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Puccini’s Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi and Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and made his European debut with the Bacau Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2018. Ken is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Orchestral Conducting at Boston University under the guidance of James Burton. As a Doctoral candidate at BU, he has conducted the Boston University Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra numerous times in concert and has assisted the Boston University Opera Institute productions of Ned Rorem’s Our Town and Mozart’s Così fan tutte as well as the Boston University Symphony Orchestra & Symphonic Chorus performances of Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” at Boston Symphony Hall. Ken also holds graduate degrees in conducting from the Manhattan School of Music and a B.A. in music from Yale University. Prior to Yale he attended the New England Conservatory as an Undergraduate Diploma candidate for Oboe Performance under the tutelage of John Ferrillo. His other teachers include George Manahan, William Lumpkin, Bernard Labadie, and Tatsuya Shimono. In masterclasses and festivals, he has been taught by renowned artists and pedagogues such as Leonard Slatkin, Jun Märkl, Gerard Schwarz, Jorma Panula, and Carlos Spierer. He is deeply grateful for all the excellent guidance and mentorship he has received thus far in his life as a musician. In addition to music performance, Ken has experience working as an artistic administrator for the New York Philharmonic and as a freelance photographer. His work has been published in TIME, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Boston Globe, Playbill, the Chronicle of Higher Education, YES! Weekly and the Yale Daily News.

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Dear Ken, I would like to thank you for accepting my invitation and welcome you as the newest member of our charming Conductors of the Future family. The whole team and our readers look forward to getting to know you better and finding out as much as possible about your musical origins and plans. First, I would […]

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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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