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Juanjo Mena



Juanjo Mena began his conducting career in his native Spain as artistic director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra in 1999. His uncommon talent was soon recognized internationally, leading to appointments as principal guest conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic and chief guest conductor of the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. In 2011 he was named chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, which he led for seven seasons, taking the orchestra on tours of Europe and Asia and conducting annual televised concerts at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. May 2023 marked Juanjo Mena’s final performances as principal conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival, the longest-running choral festival in North America, concluding his pivotal six-year tenure at the organization, during which he expanded the commissioning of new works and put the community at the heart of the festival. 

A sought-after guest conductor, Mena has led Europe’s top ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, and the Dresden Philharmonic. He also appears regularly with all the major orchestras in his native Spain.

Following his North American debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2004, he has conducted the Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, National, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, Montreal, and Toronto symphony orchestras; The Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Minnesota Orchestras; and the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras. In Asia, he is a regular guest conductor at Tokyo’s NHK Symphony Orchestra. 

In the 2023–24 season Juanjo Mena makes two return visits to New York, including with the New York Philharmonic. Further season highlights include projects with the Barcelona, Montreal, Detroit, and Pittsburgh symphony orchestra as well as the BBC Philharmonic, Gürzenich Orchestra, and Spanish National Orchestra. 

Juanjo Mena studied conducting with Sergiu Celibidache following his musical education at the Madrid Royal Conservatory, where he was mentored by Carmelo Bernaola and Enrique García Asensio. In 2016 Mena was awarded the Spanish National Music Award. He lives with his family in his native Basque Country.

Upcoming 2023-2024 Performances

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