Embodying music with an unparalleled dramatic sensibility, soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan is an artist at the forefront of creation. Her artistic colleagues include directors and conductors such as Christoph Marthaler, Simon Rattle, Sasha Waltz, Kent Nagano, Vladimir Jurowski, John Zorn, Andreas Kriegenburg, Andris Nelsons, Reinbert de Leeuw, David Zinman, Antonio Pappano, Katie Mitchell, Kirill Petrenko, and Krszysztof Warlikowski.
As a singer, conductor – or both simultaneously – the Canadian musician has shown a profound commitment to the music of our time, and has given the world première performances of over 85 new creations. Hannigan has collaborated extensively with composers including Boulez, Dutilleux, Ligeti, Stockhausen, Sciarrino, Barry, Dusapin, Dean, Benjamin and Abrahamsen.
Hannigan opened the 2018⁄19 season by singing the title role in the world premiere of Jarrell’s Bérénice at Paris Opera, conducted by Philippe Jordan and directed by Claus Guth. Hannigan continues her season with singing one of her heart’s most beloved pieces: let me tell you by Hans Abrahamsen – the work she premiered with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2013 and which she has now performed with 11 orchestras worldwide - this coming season with four more European orchestras. She will be conducting Orchestre Phiharmonique de Radio France, The Cleveland Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony, LUDWIG, Juilliard Orchestra, Danish Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Münchner Philharmoniker and also London Symphony Orchestra, with programmes including repertoire by Haydn, Sibelius, Strauss, Berg, Bartók and Gershwin. This season also sees the launch of her groundbreaking mentorship scheme, ‘Equilibrium Young Artists’. With over twenty performances with four partner orchestras, Equilibrium’s first season will also see Hannigan conduct her first opera, The Rake’s Progress. Barbara Hannigan will also be Music Director of the prestigious Ojai Festival in California in summer 2019. In 2019⁄20, Hannigan begins her tenure as Principal Guest Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden.
Unforgettable operatic lead-role performances at the world’s leading opera companies include: Lulu in productions by both Krszysztof Warlikowski at La Monnaie and by Christoph Marthaler at Hamburg Staatsoper; Pelléas et Mélisande in both Katie Mitchell’s staging at the 2016 Festival d’Aix-en-Province conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and in Krszysztof Warlikowski’s 2017 production at the Ruhrtriennale; and Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten at the Bayerische Staatsoper directed by Andreas Kriegenberg and conducted by Kirill Petrenko, for which she won Germany’s Faust Award. Hannigan embodied the role of Elle in Warlikowski’s production of La Voix Humaine at Opéra de Paris in 2015 and again for its reprise in April 2018. She created the role of Agnès in George Benjamin’s landmark Written on Skin, which premiered at Festival d’Aix-en-Province in 2012. Further recent operatic world première incarnations include Ophelia in Brett Dean’s Hamlet at Glyndebourne Festival 2017; and Isabel in George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence directed by Katie Mitchell (Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Dutch National Opera, 2018).
She works regularly with orchestras including: Berliner Philharmoniker, Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchner Philharmoniker, Gothenburg Symphony, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Münchner Philharmoniker, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra.
In 2017 Barbara Hannigan created ‘Equilibrium Young Artists’, a mentoring initiative for young professional musicians, which quickly attracted over 350 applicants from 39 countries. Equilibrium launches officially in 2018, with 21 participants hand-selected by Hannigan and with whom she is working intensively on Mozart’s Requiem, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. The latter will itself have over 15 performances conducted by Hannigan with orchestras including Gothenburg Symphony and Münchner Philharmoniker, plus a tour with LUDWIG at the Philharmonie de Paris, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Dortmund Konzerthaus, Dresden Musikfestspiele and Hamburg Elbphilharmonie.
Hannigan’s first album as singer and conductor, Crazy Girl Crazy (Alpha Classics, 2017) – featuring works by Berio, Berg and Gershwin and with the accompanying film Music is Music, by Mathieu Amalric - won her the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal album, the 2018 Opus Klassik award for Best Solo Vocal Performance, the 2018 Klara award for Best International Classical album and the 2018 JUNO Award for Classical Album of the Year. She continues her relationship with Alpha Classics and with her long-time collaborator and mentor, Dutch pianist Reinbert de Leeuw, for the 2018 album Vienna: Fin de Siècle. Previous recordings have garnered awards from Edison Klassiek, Grawemeyer, Victoires de la Musique Classique, Diapason and Gramophone.
Further awards include Singer of the Year (Opernwelt, 2013); Musical Personality of the Year (Syndicat de la Presse Francaise, 2012); Ehrenpreise (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik 2018); and the Rolf Schock Prize for Musical Arts (2018), the multi-disciplinary prize across science and the arts, which recognises trailblazing and brilliant figures within their respective fields. Barbara Hannigan holds honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto and Mt Allison University, and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2016.