Koen Kessels studied at the Antwerp Royal Flemish Conservatory of Music. He was appointed Music Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2010.
He made his Royal Ballet debut in 2008 conducting The Nutcracker. He has since returned every Season, in such repertory as Giselle, Symphony in C and Raven Girl (world premiere), and in the 2014/15 Season conducts the world premiere of Woolf Works. He will succeed Barry Wordsworth as Music Director of The Royal Ballet from the start of the 2015/16 Season.
He is a regular guest conductor for Opéra National de Paris, and has conducted for such companies as New York City Ballet, the Théâtre du Capitole, Dutch National Ballet, Vienna State Opera, Teatro dell’ Opera di Roma, Teatro Real, Madrid, and the New National Theatre, Tokyo.
His ballet repertory includes Le Parc, Coppélia, La Source, Proust, Cinderella, Hurlevent, Hommage à Jerôme Robbins, Giselle, Bolero, La Valse, Suite en Blanc, L’Arlésienne, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Firebird, Apollo, Les Noces, Prodigal Son, Jewels, Romeo and Juliet and The Prince of the Pagodas. DVD releases include Proust, Cinderella, Coppelia, Hommage à Jerôme Robbins and La Petite Danseuse with Paris Opera Ballet, The Nutcracker with The Royal Ballet and Cinderella with BRB.
Opera repertory includes Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin (Antwerp Opera), Hosokawa’s Hanjo, Lens/Cave/Cherkaoui Shell Shock (La Monnaie, Brussels) and operas by Mozart, Bizet, Verdi, Puccini Britten and Maxwell Davies, among others.
Kessels is an honorary professor of Birmingham University, Artistic Director of Inspiratum and on the artistic direction team at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. As Artistic Director of HERMESensemble he has collaborated with such composers as Abrahamsen, Bartholomée, Benjamin, Brewaeys, Ferrari, Henderickx, Hosokawa, Van Hove, Zev Gordon, Dusapin, Huber, Maresz, Murail, Pagh-Paan, Van Parys, Saariaho, Talbot and Yared.