INTRODUCTION

First Prize winner and Special Prize of the Orchestra at the 8th International Jorma Panula Conducting Competition, Nathanaël Iselin is a young French conductor based in Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

RECENT AND FUTURE HIGHLIGHTS

Engagements in the 2023/2024 season include concerts with the Aarhus Symfoniorkester (Debussy’s La Mer and Bax’s Tintagel), the Kymi Sinfonietta (Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ Symphony, Schumann and Wagner), the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oulu Sinfonia (Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Debussy’s Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra), the Jönköping Sinfonietta (Humperdinck, Valdridsson), and Phion, Orkest van Gelderland & Overijssel,  among others. Nathanaël will also be an assistant conductor for François-Xavier Roth in Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten w. Gürzenich Orchester Köln.

His further future engagements include a return to the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra for a ‘Masterpieces in Tivoli’ concert (Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms) in May 2024, and for a Summer Classics concert with Mathias Hammer and Frederik Cilius in Tivoli. Nathanaël is to return to the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra for a concert (songs by Sigurd Barrett), and he will also conduct a Halloween concert with Opera Orchestre National Montpellier, and a concert with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.  In 2025 he will conduct concerts w. the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra (Debussy’s La Mer and Smetana’s The Moldau).

On the lyrical scene, Nathanaël regularly conducts at Opera Hedeland, Denmark, where he led fully-staged youth audience productions of Carmen and Rigoletto. He recently recorded Peter Heise’s opera Drot og Marsk. He returned in 2023 to conduct the whole production of La Cenerentola.

Nathanaël won the second prize in the German Conducting Award 2023, organized by Deutscher Musikrat in collaboration with Oper Köln, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, WDR Sinfonieorchester, WDR 3, and Kölner Philharmonie.

BIOGRAPHY

Nathanaël Iselin started his career as assistant conductor of the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra for the season 2021-2022. He was the first person to hold that position in Denmark. Shortly thereafter he won the prestigious Jorma Panula Competition in Finland. In the 2021-2022 season, Nathanaël also made his debuts with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (Bruckner’s 3rd Symphony), the Orchestre National de Montpellier (Mozart’s 31st Symphony), as well as the Lahti Symphony Orchestra (Ravel’s Ma Mère l’Oye). He was then appointed Conductor in Residence of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra for the 2022-2023 season. Among his engagements in Iceland were a ‘Music-loving magic’ concert, featuring music by (a.o.) Mozart, John Williams, Stravinsky; a ‘Tectonic plate boundaries’ concert, as part of the Dark Music Days contemporary festival; and a young soloists competition, featuring music by (a.o.) Wagner, Berg, Ravel. He also conducted Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique w. the Iceland National Youth Orchestra.

In the 2022-2023 season, Iselin also conducted the Odense Symfoniorkester in a concert featuring Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, Hummel’s Trumpet concerto (Victor Koch Jensen), and Dvořák’s 8th Symphony. He led the Sønderjyllands Symfoniorkester in a concert for the Define Festival, featuring pieces by Adams, Ratkje, and Zappa, as well as a concert with the Aalborg Symfoniorkester in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. In the spring of 2023, Iselin conducted the Orchestre de Picardie in a series of family concerts, and the Vaasa City Orchestra in a concert featuring Beethoven’s 8th Symphony, Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto (Piotr Pawlak), and Sally Beamish’s Variations on a theme by Britten. In the summer of 2023, Iselin was an assistant conductor in the world premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s trumpet concerto HUSH and Mahler’s 9th Symphony w. the Finnish Radio Orchestra at the Helsinki Festival.

Previously he worked at the Bern Opera, Switzerland, as a second conductor and assistant for the production of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride (2020). Back in 2019, he conducted the Copenhagen Philharmonic in a performance for Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark.

On various other occasions, Nathanaël had the chance to conduct such orchestras as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France, the Singapore Symphony, the Danish Radio, the Finnish Radio, Helsinki Philharmonic, and Philharmonie Konstanz.

Nathanaël has studied orchestra conducting in four of the most prestigious music universities in Europe: the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris, the Hochschule der Künste in Zürich and the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. Whilst a student he has been mentored by such renowned conductors as Iván Fischer, Mariss Jansons, Fabio Luisi, Susanna Mälkki, Sakari Oramo, Michael Schønwandt, Giordano Bellincampi, Johannes Schlaefli, Thomas Søndergård, Alexander Vedernikov, Simone Young and Jaap van Zweden.

His studies at the Paris Conservatoire have given him both a love of and an insight into the music of French impressionism such as Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Ravel’s La Valse. He has lived in Switzerland, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Finland, taking the chance to deepen his love for Finnish music – Sibelius and Rautavaara in particular.

As a percussionist, he has performed with the Ensemble Intercontemporain-CNSMDP, the Limoges Opera, and the Nouvelle Europe Orchestra, led by conductors such as David Zinman, Dennis Russell Davies, and Matthias Pintscher.

AUDIO & VIDEO

Nathanaël Iselin – Sibelius – Symphony 2 w. Aarhus Symphony Orchestra – 2021

Nathanaël Iselin – Schönberg – Kammersymfonie 1 w. Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Nathanaël Iselin – Beethoven, L.v. – 7 Symphony, mvts 2 & 4, w. Aarhus Symphony Orchestra – 2022

REVIEWS

Concert w. Jyväskylä Sinfonia, Elinä Vähälä and Tanja Nisonen – E.Smyth, Mendelssohn, Haydn, Händel, J.Bull –
– February 2023

“Iselin’s conducting style made an impression. There was both precision and elegance in the interpretations: Mendelssohn’s Hebrides was flowing as it should, but when it was time for the clarinets to bring the work to a close, a magical peace descended on the cave island in an instant. Iselin was also able to present the pieces during the concert and was very sympathetic there.

The humor of Haydn’s finale was allowed to bloom in a technically accurate and precise manner. Händel’s piece was given a sensitive, moderate execution. At the end of the concert came an elegant intimate stage lighting, and some audience members held back their tears during Bull’s very touching string piece.

The audience seemed to like the original program. During the intermission, a fellow listener remarked that “you still have to study what you’re listening to here”, on his way to purchasing the program. His neighbor said that although he doesn’t particularly like Haydn’s repetitiveness, it worked in such a setting “in a completely different way”. This is an essential thing in programming: what binds the works together, how do they affect each other and what does this mean for the whole?

In any case, the hall also had a pleasant time with the beautifully executed Bull. You really don’t always need a massive burst with cymbals at the end – a small Renaissance gem can suffice quite well.”

–  Jari Hoffrén, elementori.blogspot.com 

Concert with Lahti Symphony Orchestra (live stream) – February 2022

“In the second concert stream of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra there was a very French theme: not only the music was from a French composer, but also the visiting artists are from France. The conductor Nathanael Iselin, a rising talent, has studied in prestigious schools all over Europe: the Paris conservatory, the Zurich academy and the Royal Danish music academy. At the moment his teacher is Sakari Oramo, professor at the Sibelius Academy.
The profound musical view and refined vision is strongly conveyed in Iselin’s work.”

– Petri Poutiainen, Etelä-Suomen Sanomat

Concert with Orchestre Montpellier Occitanie – November 2021

“A young prodigy conducts an oboe virtuoso.

He knew how to transmit the emotions, between softness and strength, of these 21st-century scores to the public of Saint-Jean. He also knew how to convey the rich pleasure of Mozart’s only concerto for oboe, well helped in this by the virtuosity of the soloist.”

– Bernier Michel, L’Independant

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