Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra since 2010, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal from 2002 to 2006, Jacques Lacombe is renowned as a “gifted and ambitious” conductor (The New York Times) whose artistic integrity and rapport with musicians and orchestras have propelled him to international stature. As Maestro Lacombe steps down from the New Jersey Symphony at the end of this season, he takes up the post of Chief Conductor of the Bonn Opera in Germany. Maestro Lacombe has served as Music Director of both orchestra and opera with the Philharmonie de Lorraine, Associate Conductor with the Orchestre Lyrique de Région Avignon Provence, and has been Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières since 2006.
Having debuted with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood last season, he returned there to open the 75th Tanglewood season in July 2015 in an All-American program with the BSO featuring Kirill Gerstein and Jessye Norman. He returned also in the summer to lead concerts at the Festival de Lanaudiere. Lacombe opens his 2015/16 season in New Jersey with a program featuring Branford Marsalis in John WIlliams' Escapades for Saxophone, an extension of Lacombe's mission of including an array of 20th/21st century American works - not a few jazz inflected -- in the NJSO's programming. Other highlights of his New Jersey season include the world premiere of Richard Danielpour's Percussion Concerto and programs of Berlioz and Mendelssohn in a continuing celebration of the quadri-centenniel of Shakespeare's birth, a project launched last season in the NJSO's annual 3-week Winter Festival.
Lacombe guests this season with the symphony orchestras in Montreal, Taipei, and Edmonton; Nice, Mulhouse and Nancy; and in Quebec, Omaha, and San Antonio. In opera, he leads performances of Werther in Paris with Juan Diego Florez and Joyce Di Donato and the Orchestre National de France and ends the season leading a rarity at the Bonn Opera, Holofernes by Nikolaus von Reznicek.
Lacombe began the 2014/15 Season with a Boston Symphony Orchestra debut at Tanglewood, leading Gabriela Montero and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in a program of Rachmaninoff and Verdi. He opened the Vancouver Opera’s season with Carmen, and the NJSO season with Carmina Burana and returned to the Deutsche Oper in Berlin for three different productions, including La Damnation de Faust, Samson et Dalila, and Carmen with frequent collaborator, Roberto Alagna. He also returned to the Opéra de Monte Carlo — where he is a frequent guest - for Lady Macbeth of Mtensk and a special “Gala Bel canto” with Diana Damrau.
In the course of Lacomb'e NJSO tenure, some landmark concerts have included critically well received performances of Tan Dun’s Water Concerto, Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire—with a realization of the composer’s “color organ”—and the commissioning of the Francesca Harper Project to create original choreography for Beethoven’s ballet The Creatures of Prometheus. Lacombe spearheaded the major new initiative of the multi-year “New Jersey Roots Project,” highlighting contemporary works by New Jersey composers. With composer Steve Mackey, Lacombe established the NJSO Edward T. Cone Institute at Princeton University, offering a unique training program to support and perform works by young emerging composers, and to develop significant new ways of involving other cultural institutions tin the Symphony's programming.
Lacombe and the NJSO received national recognition at Carnegie Hall’s 2012 Spring for Music Festival, where he led the Orchestra and pianist Marc-André Hamelin in the epic Busoni Piano Concerto. Anthony Tommasini wrote for The New York Times, “It was an honor to be in the hall for the astonishing performance of the Busoni concerto.”
He also participated in the inaugural season of the new hall of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and has led New Jersey Symphony Orchestra concerts with distinguished soloists including Frederica von Stade, Renée Fleming, André Watts, Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, and Yefim Bronfman. In addition to engagements with the Toronto and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras and the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, and several tours and recordings with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Lacombe has worked abroad with the Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris, the Orquesta Filarmonica de Malaga in Spain and with orchestras in Monte-Carlo, Nice, Toulouse, Halle and throughout Eastern Europe. He has also led the Victoria Orchestra (Melbourne) and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
Lacombe’s work in opera includes all-star productions of La Boheme and Tosca at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the world premiere of John Estacio’s Lillian Alling with the Vancouver Opera, Le Cid and the world premiere of Marius et Fanny with l’Opéra de Marseille, and many productions with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, including both canon classics and a number of operatic rarities including Die Dorfschule by Felix von Weingartner, Carl Orff’s Gisei – Das Opfer, and Waltershausen’s Oberst Chabert, which was produced by CPO in 2011 as a live CD. He has led productions with Opéra de Monte-Carlo, at the Teatro Regio in Turin, and with the Metropolitan Opera, where he conducted Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and Jules Massenet’s Werther.
Jacques Lacombe has recorded for the CPO and Analekta labels, and has recorded Janáček’s Suite from The Cunning Little Vixen, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, and the Verdi Requiem on releases with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. His performances have been broadcast on PBS, the CBC, Mezzo TV in Europe, Arte TV in France and on Hungarian Radio-Television.
Born in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Québec, Jacques Lacombe received his musical training at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal and at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna. He was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec in 2012, and in 2013 was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, one of the highest civilian honors in the country.