Kensho Watanabe has served as Assistant Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra since the 2016-17 season and was the inaugural conducting fellow of the Curtis Institute of Music from 2013 to 2015, under the mentorship of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In April 2017, he came to worldwide attention by stepping in last minute for an indisposed Nézet-Séguin to make his critically acclaimed subscription debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and pianist Daniil Trifonov.

Equally at home in both symphonic and operatic repertoire, Mr. Watanabe has led numerous operas with the Curtis Opera Theatre, most recently Puccini’s La Rondine in 2017 and La Bohème in 2015.  Additionally he served as assistant conductor to Mr. Nézet-Séguin on a new production of Strauss’s Elektra at Montreal Opera.


Symphonic highlights include conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra with the violinist, Hilary Hahn, plus re-engagements with the Orchestre Métropolitain, the San Diego Symphony, and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.


An accomplished violinist, Mr. Watanabe received his Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music and served as a substitute violinist in The Philadelphia Orchestra from 2012 to 2016. Cognizant of the importance of the training and development of young musicians, he has served on the staff of the Greenwood Music Camp since 2007, currently serving as the Orchestra conductor.


Mr. Watanabe is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with distinguished conducting pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller. Additionally he holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Yale College, where he studied molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.