Garrett Keast, conductor

Biography

“He goes beyond just music; he strives to create an atmosphere and evoke feelings in the listener.” - Opernnetz, Oper Bonn

Garrett Keast has received worldwide attention for his ability to create galvanizing and soul-stirring experiences in concert halls and opera houses. Praised for “leaving audiences hungry for more” (Basler Zeitung), the Berlin-based conductor is recognized for his broad repertoire experience and for his American focus with the Berlin Academy of American Music. He is consistently admired for the enthusiasm and synergy he builds with musicians and audiences.

Keast began his career in New York as Associate Conductor of the New York City Opera before launching his career in Europe with engagements at the Paris Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Oper Bonn, and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester. Today, he regularly appears at venues including Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Brussel’s BOZAR, the Staatsoper Hamburg, Aspen Music Festival, Theater an der Wien, and the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden. Described as drawing out “refined and concentrated playing” with “assured sensitivity” (Financial Times), Keast has conducted performances with orchestras such as the Tonkünstler Orchester Vienna, Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Belgian National Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

The 2021 and 2022 seasons brought Keast to the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg with two orchestras: the Berlin Academy of American Music with a program of Bernstein, Caroline Shaw, Copland, Gershwin, Milhaud and Stravinsky; and the TONALi Orchester featuring a new music program of five European composers. In addition, he conducted the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin in a Euroarts recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, led two subscription weeks with the Borusan Philharmonic Orchestra in Istanbul, and conducted a masterwork’s program with the San Antonio Symphony. In opera houses, he led John Neumeier’s Bernstein Dances in the Los Angeles Music Center and the Staatsoper Hamburg, Bernstein’s Songfest in Berlin, and conducted a new production of Jekyll & Hyde at the Finnish National Opera & Ballet.

With distinct performances leading over sixty symphony orchestras and more than twenty opera companies across four continents, the conductor’s experience on the podium showcases extraordinary range. His symphonic repertoire extends from Haydn and Brahms to Adams, Britten and Widmann. From the operatic canon, Keast has led masterworks of contemporary composers such as Adams, Bernstein, and Unsuk Chin, to traditional and iconic pieces by Mozart, Puccini, Strauss and Wagner.

Always eager to serve as a cultural bridge between Europe and America, Keast is a prominent interpreter of repertoire from his homeland and continuously develops new and exciting programming. In recent seasons he has led American programs including a Broadway concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, a Bernstein Gala with the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, performances of Bernstein’s Mass in Dresden’s Frauenkirche, and performances featuring Adams, Bernstein, Copland, Gershwin and Glass with the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Tonkünstler Orchester Vienna, Music Center Los Angeles, Staatsoper Hannover and John Neumeier’s Hamburg Ballet. Garrett Keast is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Berlin Academy of American Music, a chamber orchestra he founded during the pandemic, made up of top Berlin - based musicians sharing a common focus to perform and promote the greatest works of American and American immigrant composers. The orchestra’s debut recording, Transatlantic, was released in October 2021 on the ONYX Classics label and features flutist Stathis Karapanos, soprano Chen Reiss, and violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley.

Throughout his career, Garrett Keast has been invited to conduct important international orchestras including the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg, SWR Sinfonieorchester, Bamberger Symphoniker, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Operá National de Lorraine à Nancy, Atlanta Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Royal Danish Orchestra, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, Odense Symphony Orchestra (Carl Nielsen Violin Competition), and the Prague Philharmonia.

Garrett Keast has conducted opera and ballet productions such as Faust and Swan Lake with the Opéra National de Paris, Die Zauberflöte with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Bernstein Mass in Dresden’s Frauenkirche, Sylvia and Jekyll & Hyde with the Finnish National Opera & Ballet, La Bohème at the Aspen Music Festival, Ariadne auf Naxos at the Virginia Opera, Carmen at Opera San Antonio, Midsummernight’s Dream in Tokyo, Der Fliegender Holländer at Theater Erfut, Rigoletto at Theater Bremen, Don Giovanni at New Orleans Opera, and Bluthaus at Oper Bonn. At the Staatsoper Hamburg, Keast has enjoyed a long relationship with John Neumeier’s Hamburg Ballet where he has led over one hundred twenty-five performances of nine productions. Additionally, he has conducted performances at the Royal Danish Ballet, the Staatsoper Hannover, the Dallas Opera, as well as a highly praised Così fan tutte at the Fort Worth Opera Festival.

Garrett Keast was mentored by Christoph Eschenbach at the Houston Symphony and studied at the Aspen and Tanglewood Music Festivals. He was awarded the Bruno Walter Career Development Grant during his tenure as Associate Conductor of the New York City Opera. He began his career in positions as Assistant Conductor at the Opéra National de Paris, the Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and often accompanied Maestro Eschenbach as his musical assistant for international orchestra tours and opera productions.

Calendar
Repertoire

Opera Repertoire - Symphonic repertoire available upon request

John Adams

NIXON IN CHINA

Vincenzo Bellini

NORMA

Alban Berg

LULU

Leonard Bernstein

CANDIDE

Georges Bizet

CARMEN

Benjamin Britten

BILLY BUDD
PETER GRIMES

Unsuk Chin

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Gaetano Donizetti

D'ELISIR D'AMORE

Carlisle Floyd

SUSANNAH

Charles Gounod

FAUST/Wagner

Georg Friedrich Haas

BLUTHAUS

Georg Friedrich Händel

JULIUS CAESAR
RODELINDA
SEMELE

Paul Hindemith

MATHIS DER MALER

Engelbert Humperdinck

HÄNSEL UND GRETEL

Leoš Janácek

JENUFA

Ruggiero Leoncavallo

I PAGLIACCI

Pietro Mascagni

CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

COSI FAN TUTTE
DON GIOVANNI
IDOMENEO
DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE KV 620
LA CLEMENZA DI TITO
LE NOZZE DI FIGARO

Jacques Offenbach

HOFFMANNS ERZÄHLUNGEN

Francis Poulenc

DIALOGUES OF THE CARMELITES

Giacomo Puccini

TOSCA
GIANNI SCHICCHI
MADAMA BUTTERFLY
LA BOHÈME

Gioacchino Rossini

TANCREDI

Camille Saint-Saëns

SAMSON ET DALILA

Richard Strauss

ARIADNE AUF NAXOS
DER ROSENKAVALIER

Igor Stravinsky

THE RAKE'S PROGRESS

Franz von Suppé

BOCCACCIO

Giuseppe Verdi

AIDA
FALSTAFF
LA TRAVIATA
OTELLO
RIGOLETTO

Richard Wagner

DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN
DIE MEISTERSINGER
DIE WALKÜRE
LOHENGRIN
TRISTAN UND ISOLDE
Review
Transatlantic (Berlin Academy of American Music, Garrett Keast)
limelight magazine
Fri, 2022-01-14
This disc, aptly titled Transatlantic, came about through American musicians based in Berlin who in 2020 formed a chamber orchestra to perform American works. (Calling Stravinsky an American composer is a stretch, but he wrote his Dumbarton Oaks Concerto in Washington in 1938). Craig Urquhhart, a Berlin-based composer who runs the Leonard Bernstein office, premiered his Lamentation for Flute and Piano with Christoph Eschenbach at the keyboard. Conductor Garrett Keast convinced him to rearrange the piece for flute and strings. It is gentle, melancholy, and lyrical. Garrett Keast Keast and Greek flautist Stathis Karapanos decided to build a program around Urquhart’s work. The two major pieces they chose are Dumbarton Oaks and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite in its original chamber-orchestra version. Both are familiar and played here with elegance and rhythmic acuity. The remaining works featuring Karapanos are imaginative choices. Toward the Sea 2 for alto flute, harp and strings by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) has an American connection: its three short movements are titled In the Night, Moby Dick, and Cape Cod. Takemitsu’s evocative and uniquely personal combination of post-impressionism and Japanese tradition fits beautifully into the program. Then there is the exciting song cycle Nofim (Sights) by the American-Israeli composer Avner Dorman (b. 1975), radiantly sung by soprano Chen Reiss, who also contributes a fiercely accurate rendition of Anne Trulove’s aria No word from Tom from Stravinsky’s opera, The Rake’s Progress. A fascinating program strongly played and recorded; Transatlantic is a triumph.
Frische Farben aus der Berlin Academy of American Music
Pizzicato.lu
Mon, 2021-12-06
Transatlantic; Igor Stravinsky: Concerto Dumbarton Oaks + No word from Tom aus The Rake's Progress; Craig Urquhart: Lamentation für Flöte & Streichorchester; Avner Dorman: Nofim; Toru Takemitsu: Toward the Sea II; Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite; Chen Reiss, Sopran, Stathis Karapanos, Flöte, Berlin Academy of American Music, Garrett Keast; 1 CD Onyx 4223; Aufnahme 2020, Veröffentlichung 11.2021(81') - Rezension von Remy Franck Mit einer ungemein frischen, spontanen und farbigen Aufführung von Stravinskys Dumbarton Oaks beginnt diese je nach geographischer Position des Zuhörers ‘transatlantische CD’. Danach folgt die sehr elegisch gespielte und doch positive Energie vermittelnde Lamentation für Flöte und Streichorchester von Craig Urquhart. Der Wechsel zu Avner Dormans Nofim könnte kontrastreicher nicht sein. Der hebräisch gerungene Zyklus für Sopran, Flöte, Schlagzeug, Violine und Piano hat viel höchst originelle, unmittelbar ansprechende und entsprechend memorable Musik zu bieten, die von den Instrumentalisten und der Sopranistin Chen Reiss wunderbar dargeboten wird. Auf ein wiederum ganz anderes Terrain begeben wir uns mit Takemitsus Toward the Sea. Toru Takemitsu hat viel für die Flöte geschrieben, ein naturverbundenes Instrument. Es ist daher nicht verwunderlich, dass die Natur in vielen seiner Flötenwerke präsent ist, so auch im Zyklus Toward the Sea, der auf dieser CD in intensiven, fast beschwörenden Interpretation zu hören ist, die ein fernes Universum mit irdischen Phänomenen zu verbinden scheint. Die gesamte Ausdruckspalette von Takemitsus Musik wird auf diese Weise wiedergegeben. Chen Reiss beteiligt sich dann nochmal für einen Auszug aus Stravinskys The Rake’s Progress. Zum Abschluss dirigiert Garrett Keast Coplands Appalachian Spring, das hier in seiner Urfassung mit 13 Instrumenten und in einer sehr inspirierten Interpretation zu hören ist. Die Tonaufnahme dieser Produktion ist hervorragend, sehr klar und räumlich, gut disponiert, was viel zu dem sehr guten Eindruck beitragt, den wir von der Produktion haben, die auch vom Programm her attraktiv ist. Depending on the listener’s geographic location, this ‘transatlantic CD’ begins with an uncommonly fresh, spontaneous and colorful performance of Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks. Then comes Craig Urquhart’s Lamentation for flute and string orchestra, played very elegiacally yet conveying also positive energy. The change to Avner Dorman’s Nofim could not be more contrasting. The Hebrew-wrestled cycle for soprano, flute, percussion, violin and piano has much highly original, immediately appealing and appropriately memorable music to offer, beautifully performed by the instrumentalists and soprano Chen Reiss. We move into yet another entirely different terrain with Takemitsu’s Toward the Sea. Toru Takemitsu wrote a great deal for the flute, an instrument close to nature. It is therefore not surprising that nature is present in many of his flute works, including the Toward the Sea cycle, which can be heard on this CD in intense, almost evocative interpretations that seem to connect a distant universe with earthly phenomena. The entire expressive palette of Takemitsu’s music is rendered in this way. Chen Reiss then joins in again for an excerpt from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Finally, Garrett Keast conducts Copland’s Appalachian Spring, heard here in its 13-instrument original version and in a very inspired interpretation. The sound recording of this production is excellent, very clear and spacious, well-disposed, which contributes much to the very good impression we have of the production, which is also attractive in terms of its program.
100 Years of America in Music
Musical America Worldwide
Thu, 2021-11-18
Released on December 3, Transatlantic takes a slightly different tack by considering how various 20th- and 21st- century composers have been drawn to the idea of America and how it has informed their writing. It’s the brainchild of conductor Garrett Keast and the Berlin Academy of American Music, an ad hoc group of American expats and friends that came together to make music during the pandemic. It opens with a crisply articulated account of Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks, a tangy, Neoclassical concerto written around the time the Russian composer was becoming a U. S. citizen. A decade later, his opera The Rake's Progress is represented by the aria “No Word from Tom,” sung with incandescent purity by soprano Chen Reiss. Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu’s Toward the Sea II for alto flute, harp, and strings comprises three filigree musical evocations of scenes from Melville’s Moby Dick. It’s presented by way of complete contrast to Copland’s more typical view of America in Appalachian Spring, here played in its original format for 13 instruments. Both are performed and recorded with lustrous clarity and great precision. Contemporary music is represented by American composer Craig Urquhart (an assistant and pupil of Bernstein) and Israeli American composer Avner Dorman. The former’s affecting Lamentation for flute and strings is lovingly played by Greek flautist Stathis Karapanos. Dormer’s skirling, modally inflected song cycle Nofim is an instantly appealing setting of Hebrew poems by Yuval Rapaport, depicting scenes from the Tel Aviv neighborhood where he and Dorman grew up best friends. These slinky orchestral songs with their occasional whisper of Kurt Weill draw sensual performances from Reiss and Karapanos.
Mannheimer Morgen (Eckhart Britsch)
Wed, 2016-09-21
"Conductor Garrett Keast lends this composition from the New World, performed in the presence of its composer at the Rittersaal of the Mannheim Castle, purposeful drive, emphasizing the figurative and illustrative moments full of intensity and contrasts. On the whole, Keast seems to strive for dynamic accents…"
Financial Times
"Garrett Keast draws refined and concentrated playing from the SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and shapes Haas’s score with assured sensitivity.” Shirley Apthorp Bluthaus, Georg Friedrich Haas, Oper Bonn, September 2011
Bleatmag
“An almost perfect orchestra under the young conductor Garrett Keast.” Faust, Opera National de Paris, October 2011
Leipziger Volkszeitung
Tue, 2013-02-26
“Keast gave Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3 a powerful and hearty performance.” "... a balanced string sound, beautiful and sonorous orchestral solos …” MDR Sinfonieorchester, Leipzig Gewandhaus
Hamburger Abendblatt
Tue, 2013-09-17
“Under the baton of Garrett Keast, the members of the [Hamburg] Philharmonic, … played the complex, dance-inflected music by Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Pärt and others, swinging in all its facets, intensely and atmospherically.”
Garrett Keast conducts “A dazzling Cosi fan tutte at the Fort Worth Opera Festival”
The Dallas Morning News
Thu, 2014-02-27
Under the baton of Garrett Keast, the Fort Worth Opera Festival presented “the operatic experience of the year” with its production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. The review continues: “Smartly led by Garrett Keast, members of the Fort Worth Symphony match the singers’ expressive range and dramatic specificity; some of the quieter wind playing is exquisite. […], Keast deserves much credit for the amazing tautness of the vocal ensembles.”
Fabiuskulturshockblog, Fabian Stallknecht
Tue, 2014-10-07
“In keeping with the concept and the cast of singers, conductor Garrett Keast also cultivates a modern Mozart style, emphasizing agogics and transparency. The orchestra, made up of musicians of the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester from Mannheim and the Stuttgarter Symphoniker, follows him with a warm and flexible sound and is invariably an attentive partner for the singers.” Cosi fan tutte, Theaterhaus Stuttgart, 07.10.2014
Kurier
Tue, 2016-05-10
„Shakespeare Dances“ hat geradezu Modellcharakter, wenn es um die Zusammenstellung eines Abends aus mehreren Stücken geht, in diesem Fall Ausschnitten aus drei Balletten Neumeiers. […] Das Wiener Kammerorchester unter der Leitung Garrett Keasts sorgt für eine musikalisch stilistische Vielfalt.
Die Presse
Tue, 2016-05-10
Neumeier schickt diese Shakespear'schen Schicksale zur Musik von Mozart, Vivaldi und Michael Tippett auf die Bühne (das Wiener Kammerorchester unter Garrett Keast spielt engagiert und feinfühlig) […] Fulminant.
Wiener Zeitung
Tue, 2016-05-10
Die Szenen sind komprimiert, doch schlüssig, die Darsteller performen - wie allgemein beim Hamburg Ballett nicht anders zu erwarten - auf höchstem Niveau. […] Pure Dramatik vermittelt das Wiener Kammerorchester unter der Leitung von Garrett Keast.
Full Orchestral Sound
Die Rheinpfalz (Gabor Halasz)
Wed, 2016-09-21
"The Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester opened its subscription cycle at the Mannheim Schloss with joyful playing and verve. The American conductor Garrett Keast, who lives in Berlin, conducted […]. With expansive conducting gestures, Keast emphasized […] stringent movement and accentuated, intense musical diction, while focusing on an rich, sonorous orchestral sound."
Werke von Aaron Copland, Anver Dorman, Igor Stravinsky und anderen
Das Orchestra Magazin
Sun, 2022-05-01
Works by Aaron Copland, Anver Dorman, Igor Stravinsky and others. Transatlantic: Stathis Karapanos (flute), Chen Reiss (soprano), Berlin Academy of American Music, cond. Garrett Keast Onyx ONYX4223 Transatlantic, the title of this CD, can be described as apt because the composers represented on the album from very different generations - as far as they were not born in the USA like Aaron Copland (1900 1990) and Craig Urquhart (born 1953) - came to America across the Atlantic like the Russian Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) and the Israeli Avner Dorman (year born 1975) or across the Pacific like the Japanese Toru Takemit su (1930-1996). It is more or less coincidental that the title of the CD corresponds to the opera Transatlantic composed by George Antheil in 1928, which incidentally was set up as a chamber version in Ulm in 1986/87. A few minutes of music from this work would have fit on the CD as well. Nevertheless, it is remarkable thanks to the colorful and varied compositions in excellent interpretations by the Berlin Academy of American Music under the direction of conductor Garrett Keast. With the opening Dumbarton Oaks (1937/38), a quarter-hour piece in three movements from his classicist phase, Stravinsky wanted to tie in with Bach's Brandenburg concertos: the angular, jagged rhythms in metrical changes offer music that belongs to the more popular works of his American years counts. Not by chance the piece has a special charm, as it was commissioned for the 30th wedding anniversary of Robert and Mildred Bliss, who lived on the estate of the same name. The CD ends with Copland's ballet music composed for the dancer Martha Graham, here composed as a 25-minute, richly shaped Appalachian Spring suite for 13 instruments. The composition begins with a resting point of sustained tones from strings and wind instruments. The Allegro that follows has a vivacity reminiscent of Stravinsky's play. The suite concludes with a moderately increasing moderato with the interpretative instruction “Like a prayer”. In Urquhart's calm Lamentation, the flutist Stathis Karapanos can be heard in a luminous tone over a dynamically varied carpet of strings. In Dorman's Nofim, the soprano Chen Reiss appears in four songs on Hebrew texts with an expressive gesture, before - for example in "Demon Dance" - the piano by Chelsey Padilla and the percussion by Lukas Böhm develop enormous drama, which at the end in “Levaya” is initially taken out, only to culminate in a percussion explosion. Before Chen Reiss is heard in a lengthy excerpt from Stravinsky's opera The Rake's Progress, Takemitsu's Toward the Sea 11 exudes a dense, moving atmosphere. In the second movement "Moby Dick", the monstrous whale seems to repeatedly appear and disappear from the calm sea. "Cape Cod" is the last of those auratic sea scenes that can coexist with Benjamin Britten's Sea Interludes. Das Orchester, Gunter Buhle, May 2022
Press Service

Photo: Kiran West

Photo: Kiran West

Photo: Kiran West

Photo: Kiran West

Photo: Kiran West

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