Born of French and Austrian descent in New York City, Maestro Kenneth Kiesler leads a highly successful international career and is one of the most versatile and recognized conductors of his generation. Recent concert engagements include televised concerts in Mexico and Mahler's Sixth Symphony in Brazil. Maestro Kiesler is also one of the world's most sought after and highly regarded teachers and mentors of conductors.
As the award winning Music Director of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra from 1980 to 2000, Maestro Kiesler conducted concerts in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and helped found both the Illinois Chamber Orchestra and Illinois Symphony Chorus. In 2000, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra named him Conductor Laureate for life, and from 2009 to 2011 he served as the orchestra's Music Advisor. He was also Music Director of the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Saint Cecilia Orchestra.
Maestro Kiesler has conducted orchestras on four continents, including the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, the Chicago Symphony at Orchestra Hall, the Chamber Orchestra of Paris, and the orchestras of Utah, Detroit, New Jersey, Florida, Indianapolis, São Paulo, Jerusalem, Sofia, Haifa, Osaka, Puerto Rico, Daejeon and Pusan in Korea, Hang Zhou in China, Memphis, San Diego, Albany, Virginia, Omaha, Fresno, Long Beach, Long Island, Portland, and at the Aspen, Atlantic, Meadowbrook, Skaneateles, Sewanee and Breckenridge festivals.
A passionate advocate for new music and living composers, he has led premieres by Evan Chambers, Steven Stucky, Gunther Schuller, Leslie Bassett, Ben Johnston, Aharon Harlap, Gabriela Lena Frank, Kristin Kuster, Steven Rush, and Paul Brantley. He also has performed several long lost pieces including a composer authorized first performance of Gershwin's original jazz-band score of Rhapsody in Blue since 1925. Other landmark performances include the U.S. Premiere of Mendelssohn's Third Piano Concerto, the world premiere of James P. Johnson's The Dreamy Kid, and the first performance since 1940 of Johnson's blues opera, De Organizer.
Maestro Kiesler's recordings with the BBC, Third Angle and University of Michgan Symphony Orchestra are heard on the Naxos, Dorian, Pierian, and Equilibrium labels. Recent work includes Ginastera's three piano concerti with acclaimed pianist, Barbara Nissman, and The Old Burying Ground, an orchestral song cycle by Evan Chambers. His latest recording, a 3 CD set of Milhaud's monumental work for expanded orchestra, chorus and soloists, L'Orestie, was released by Naxos in September of 2014, and was nominated for a 2015 GRAMMY Award.
Winner of the 2011 American prize in conducting, Mr. Kiesler was the Silver Medal winner at the 1986 Stokowski Competition, and the 1988 recipient of the Helen M. Thompson Award, presented by the American Symphony Orchestra League to the outstanding American music director under the age of 35. His teachers and mentors include Carlo Maria Giulini, Fiora Contino, Julius Herford, Erich Leinsdorf, John Nelson, and James Wimer.
Mr. Kiesler has led conducting masterclasses in New York, Houston, Chicago, Paris, Moscow, Vilnius, Leipzig, Berlin, Mexico City, London and São Paulo, as well as at the Waterville Valley Music Center (New Hampshire) and the Conductors Retreat at Medomak (Maine), now in its 19th year.
Mr. Kiesler currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he is Director of Orchestras and leads the renowned orchestral conducting program at the University of Michigan.