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Musician. Conductor.

His gestures, with their imperious rigor when necessary, alternates with movements of real sensitivity that seek to link the musical phrases together with flexibility (but also determination), as well as the musicians between them.

Jean Landras - 2021


A refined and passionate conductor, French-born James S. Kahane has been led to conduct first-rate orchestras around the world such as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish National Radio Symphony Orchestra or the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. He presently holds the positions of Principal Conductor of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, Principal Conductor of the Orchestre de Chambre de la Drôme, and Conductor of the Polytech Orchestra in Finland, and  was appointed as Susanna Mälkki's assistant conductor at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra for their 2017/2018 season, aged only 21 at the time.

Among the orchestras he has subsequently conducted are the Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, the Ostrobothnia Chamber Orchestra, the Tapiola Sinfonietta, the Jyväskylä Sinfonia, the St. Michael's String Orchestra, the Triangle Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Francophonie, the Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta, the Pori Sinfonietta, the Joensuu City Orchestra, the Järvi Academy Symphony Orchestra, the Lithuanian State Orchestra and the Rehovot Symphony Orchestra. Proficient in various genres of music, both in the symphonic and operatic world, James conducted the Finnish Chamber Opera on several occasions and was also a conductor at the Helsinki Contemporary Opera Festival, as well as on productions of operas such as The Tragedy of Carmen by Bizet, The Rape of Lucretia by Britten and Years of Silence by Tuurna. Working regularly with very different repertoires, ranging from early baroque up until the music of our times, James was a guest conductor at the NYKY Ensemble, the Hurra Barockorkester, the Somnium Ensemble, the SaxiBa Ensemble, and the Miroirs Étendus Ensemble. Further engagements next season include concerts in Finland, Israel, Canada, Ireland and France.

Parallel to that, James was invited to a wide range of major music festivals, conductors masterclasses and events, among which Bernard Haitink's conducting masterclass at the Lucerne Music Festival, the prestigious Tanglewood Music Festival, the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, and the 2017 Deutsche Dirigentenpreis (German Conductors' Award), where he was one of twelve applicants chosen to conduct the WDR Symphony Orchestra as well as the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne. In 2019, he was offered a conducting fellowship at the Atlantic Music Festival in the United States, and in the spring of 2020 he was invited as Hannu Lintu's assistant conductor at the Orchestre de Paris.


MARCH 5th, 17th 2024

"The annual Francofonia concert is a recurring yearly event that has taken place since the creation of the orchestra. It celebrates the “Month of Francophonie”, an important event for the French speaking countries around the world. The Helsinki Chamber Orchestra collaborates for the occasion with the French Institute in Finland and the French Embassy in Finland, to propose a concert centered around French and/or Finnish Music, as well as a guest country specially highlighted every year. The program will also be performed in Tammisaari on March 17th, 2024, at 7 p.m.


This year, the concert will highlight known and less known works from the French repertoire. The culmination of the event, however, is the performance of Swiss composer Arthur Honegger's Symphony No. 2 for String Orchestra, which was played on the orchestra's very first concert. As is the tradition for the Francophonia concert, the event will be entirely free to access. The concert will be conducted by the orchestra's principal conductor, James S. Kahane."


Maurice Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte (arr. for string orchestra)

Camille Saint-Saëns: Sarabande for Strings

Emmanuel Séjourné: Concerto for Marimba

Gabriel Fauré: Pavane (arr. for string orchestra)

Arthur Honegger: Symphony No. 2

Leïla Martin, Flute

James S. Kahane, conductor
Helsinki Chamber Orchestra


5.3.2024, Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland.

17.3.2024, Tammisaari, Finland.



James S. Kahane has been appointed Principal Conductor of the Orchestre de Chambre de la Drôme alongside French Conductor Rémi Durupt.

"The 2023 season starts soon! But before that, it's time to announce our new artistic committee following the last general meeting of the Orchestre de Chambre de la Drôme. We are pleased to bring together the talented:

Nicolas Mizen, Artistic Director

Irène Hontang, Mediation Officer

Rémi Durupt, Principal Conductor

James S. Kahane, Principal Conductor

Alcide Menetrier, Concertmaster"

A newcomer to the professional musical landscape, the Orchester de Chambre de la Drôme aims to become one of the leading French chamber orchestras.

Since its creation, the Orchester de Chambre de la Drôme has brought together young professional instrumentalists around the same musical project, allowing its members to put into practice the musical training received in the best institutions in France and Europe.

The founders of the Orchestra imagined an ensemble as part of an innovative and ambitious project, aimed at becoming part of the Department of Drôme in the long term.

"James clearly has a natural talent for the art of conducting [...]. He is a very intelligent and passionate musician who shows great promise in his future as a conductor"

Gstaad, Switzerland

"I find [James] to be a profound and touching conductor. His Beethoven [Symphony No. 2] sounded vibrant and dynamic and I have to say I was quite impressed."

Lucerne, Switzerland

"Mr. Kahane is a sensitive and profound musician respected by his fellow students. He knows what he wants and is able to communicate this to the orchestra. This will take him far."

Helsinki, Finland

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Principal Conductor
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