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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 by Susanna Mälkki's as her assistant conductor at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra for their 2017/2018 season, aged 21 at the time.

Among the orchestras he has subsequently conducted are notably the Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, the Ostrobothnia Chamber Orchestra, the Tapiola Sinfonietta, the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, the Jyväskylä Sinfonia, the St. Michel Strings, the Helsinki Sinfonietta, the Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta, the Pori Sinfonietta, the Joensuu City Orchestra and the Rehovot Symphony Orchestra. With a wealth of experience in both the symphonic and operatic worlds, Kahane 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, Kahane 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, Canada, Germany and France.

Parallel to that, Kahane was invited to a wide range of major music festivals, conductor 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. At the age of 22, he was asked by Kristjan Järvi to conduct the Baltic Academies Orchestra in Berlin during their first international tour, and the following year he was offered a conducting fellowship at the Atlantic Music Festival in the United States. In the spring of 2024, Kahane will be assistant conductor to Hannu Lintu at the prestigious Bayerische Staatsoper.


Assistant Conductor to Hannu Lintu

JULY 9th, 11th, 14th, 17th, 22nd 2024

"The opera Pelléas et Mélisande, world premiere in 1902 in Paris, is based on the eponymous play by Flemish symbolist Maurice Maeterlinck, a tragically ending fairy-tale love triangle surrounding the stepbrothers Golaud and Pelléas and the mysterious Mélisande loved by both. For him the external plot is not the core of the drama, says Maeterlinck – for him is far more about trying to, “go deeper into the human consciousness.” The model for this is Allemonde Castle, a grim, oppressive place without light. The actual plot remains vague, so in his opera Claude Debussy also plumbs psychological depths and topicalises subliminal emotional processes. His music is always “reticent”, approaching silence again and again. The composition dazzles in the most diverse colours, which subtly illuminate the characters. Pelléas et Mélisande is a tragedy of the inner self, enigmatic, morbid, deeply sad and full of beauty. Appearing for the first time at the Bayerische Staatsoper with this production, Dutch director Jetske Mijnssen directs.

The Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) is an opera and ballet house located in Munich. It is one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world. Since 1700 it has been the venue for important European premieres, for example Idomeneo, re di Creta by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1781."



Claude Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande

Libretto: Maurice Maeterlink

Conductor: Hannu Lintu

Director: Jetske Mijnssen

Stage design: Ben Baur

Lighting: Bernd Purkrabek

Choreography: Dustin Klein

Choruses: Franz Obermair

Dramaturgy: Ariane Bliss


9.7.2024, Prinzregententheater, Munich, Germany.

11.7.2024, Prinzregententheater, Munich, Germany.

14.7.2024, Prinzregententheater, Munich, Germany.

17.7.2024, Prinzregententheater, Munich, Germany.

22.7.2024, Prinzregententheater, Munich, Germany.



James Kahane has been named as the next Music Director of Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. His appointment will begin in September 2024 at the start of the HPO’s 2024-2025 season. 

"The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is thrilled to announce that rising star James S. Kahane will be the next Music Director of the Orchestra. The French-born conductor is currently 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. He will assume his new role in September 2024 at the start of the 2024-2025 Season.   

“With his extraordinary musical talent, profound commitment to artistic excellence, keen interest in music education and the vital role that the HPO has played for 140 years in shaping our region’s cultural landscape, James Kahane embodies the vision and values of the HPO. In him, we have found a wonderful conductor, musician and collaborative leader who can inspire our musicians and delight our audiences,” said Heather Beale, Chair, HPO Board of Directors."

For 140 years, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra has presented orchestral music and education programs with a mission to enrich the wellbeing of the greater Hamilton region. The HPO presents dynamic orchestral performances ranging from standard classical repertoire to popular music and world premieres by living composers. As one of Canada’s leading professional orchestras, the HPO has proudly contributed to the shaping of Hamilton’s cultural landscape. 

"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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