Hailed as “fearless, bold, and a life-force” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and “a brilliant and commanding conductor with unmistakable charisma” (Leipzig Volkszeitung), Ken-David Masur celebrates his 5th season as Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Chicago Symphony’s Civic Orchestra during the 23-24 season. He has conducted distinguished orchestras around the world, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, l’Orchestre National de France, the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, the National Philharmonic of Russia, and others throughout the United States, France, Germany, Korea, Japan and Scandinavia.
Masur’s tenure in Milwaukee is notable for its innovative thematic programming, including a festival celebrating the music of the 1930s – the decade when the MSO’s current home, the Bradley Symphony Center, was built – and the Water Festival, which highlighted local community partners whose work centers on conservation and education. He also instituted a multi-season artist-in-residence program that featured pianist Aaron Diehl in jazz and classical performances, and has led highly-acclaimed performances of major choral works, including a semi-staged production of Peer Gynt. This season, he begins a residency with bass-baritone Dashon Burton during which Masur and Burton will work with area high school choruses, and he leads the MSO in an inaugural city-wide Bach festival, celebrating the diverse and universal appeal of J.S. Bach’s music in an ever-changing world.
In Chicago, Masur conducts the Civic Orchestra in a variety of programming with a range of special guests, including Yo-Yo Ma. The Civic’s annual highlight is a cross-Chicago Bach Marathon, in which the Civic musicians perform free concerts throughout the city, culminating in an all-orchestra final led by Masur.
Last season, Ken-David Masur made his New York Philharmonic debut in a gala program featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. He also debuted at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, leading three programs with the Festival Orchestra, including members of the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, and another concert with the Sapporo Symphony. He debuted at Classical Tahoe and led the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Branford Marsalis and James Taylor at Tanglewood in a 90th birthday concert for John Williams. The summer of 2023 marked Masur’s debuts with the Grant Park Festival and the National Repertory Orchestra; later this season, he returns to the Baltimore Symphony and the Kristiansand Symphony.
Previously, Masur was Associate Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During his five seasons there, he led numerous concerts, at Symphony Hall and at Tanglewood, of new and standard works featuring guest artists such as Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Emanuel Ax, Garrick Ohlsson, Joshua Bell, Louis Lortie, Kirill Gerstein, Nikolaj Lugansky and others. For eight years, Masur served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Munich Symphony, and has also served as Associate Conductor of the San Diego Symphony and as Resident Conductor of the San Antonio Symphony.
Music education and working with the next generation of young artists are of major importance to Masur. In addition to his work with Civic Orchestra of Chicago, he has conducted orchestras and led masterclasses at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts, New England Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Boston University, Boston Conservatory, Tokyo’s Bunka Kaikan Chamber Orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and The Juilliard School, where he leads the Juilliard Orchestra this fall.
Masur is passionate about contemporary music and has conducted and commissioned dozens of new works, many of which have premiered at the Chelsea Music Festival, an annual summer music festival in New York City founded and directed by Masur and his wife, pianist Melinda Lee Masur. The Festival, which celebrates its 15th Anniversary in 2024, seeks to engage audiences with its ground-breaking collaborations between the performing, visual and culinary arts, and has been praised by The New York Times as a “gem of a series” and by TimeOut NY as an “impressive addition to New York’s cultural ecosystem.”
On TV and online, Masur has reached a broad national and international audience. Milwaukee PBS’s broadcast Live from the Bradley Symphony Center, featuring the very first public concert by the Milwaukee Symphony in their new home, was nominated for an Emmy Award and was subsequently broadcast over PBS nationally. Most recently, Masur has been featured in several episodes of Classical Tahoe, a multi-season series on PBS originating at the summer festival. Masur has also hosted a series of Milwaukee Symphony podcast episodes, interviewing a variety of guests including Yo-Yo Ma, Augusta Reed Thomas, and Augustin Hadelich, as well as members of the MSO and community partners. The Milwaukee Symphony’s 20-21 concert season, presented virtually, garnered 2,562 virtual season subscribers from 18 U.S. states and territories and 22 countries, resulting in 37,208 streams of the 16-concert season. Masur has made recordings with the English Chamber Orchestra and violinist Fanny Clamagirand, and with the Stavanger Symphony, the latter of which was named by WQXR, New York’s classical music radio station, as a “Best New Classical Release.” Masur received a Grammy nomination from the Latin Recording Academy in the category Best Classical Album of the Year for his work as a producer of the album Salon Buenos Aires.
Ken-David Masur received his B.A. from Columbia University in New York City. As founding Music Director of the Bach Society Orchestra and Chorus there, he toured Germany and released a critically acclaimed album of symphonies and cantatas by W.F. Bach, C.P.E. Bach and J.S. Bach. He received further music studies at the Leipzig Conservatory, the Detmold Academy, the Manhattan School of Music and the “Hanns Eisler” Conservatory in Berlin, where he was a five-year master student of bass baritone Thomas Quasthoff. He studied conducting primarily with his father, Kurt Masur, and was further mentored by such conductors as Stefan Asbury, Christoph von Dohnányi, Jorma Panula, Larry Rachleff and Christopher Seaman.
Masur and his family are proud to call Milwaukee their home and enjoy exploring all the riches of the Third Coast.
“A brilliant and commanding conductor with unmistakable charisma.”
"...he knows how to pull out the stops and damn the torpedoes at appropriate times."
“There was no denying the life-force in Masur’s interpretation.”
"Ken-David Masur milked every ounce of romantic grandeur from the sweeping string lines and signaled each assertive articulation from the brass."
- The Minnesota Orchestra celebrates the 2020 Olympics
- Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" with the Boston Symphony Orchestra
- The Moment of First Encounter: Masur & the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
- PEER GYNT adapted by Bill Barclay for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Ken-David Masur
- Ken-David Masur conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra
- Symphony Hall Series
- New Tanglewood Tales: Life On Stage and Off
- Boston University College of Fine Arts presents Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9," and Arnold Schoenberg's "Friede auf Erden"
- Masur leads the National Philharmonic of Russia at the Festival International de Colmar, in France.
- Ken-David Masur, Clara Osowski, and Dashon Burton Perform Mendelssohn’s Elijah!
- Ken-David Masur Triumphs in Milwaukee Symphony Water Festival
- Ken-David Masur Leads Boston Symphony
- John Williams will help Milwaukee Symphony open its new concert hall next season
- Ken-David Masur steps in for Gustavo Dudamel at the Boston Symphony Orchestra