Judith Yan Sulmona Italy
 

                   BIOGRAPHY

        

Judith Yan has been a conductor for the National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company since 1998. Equally adept at conducting for both opera and ballet, she has conducted for companies in Germany, Italy, the United States and Canada.

Her 2006 debut with the National Ballet of Canada led to the subsequent invitation to conduct over 85 performances for the company, working with the world’s leading choreographers and ballet masters of today. For the National Ballet of Canada, she has conducted Sir Peter Wright’s Giselle, John Neumeier’s The Seagull, John Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet, Balanchine’s Symphony in C and Don Quixote, James Kuldelka’s Cinderella, The Italian Straw Hat and The Nutcracker, Donald Hynd’s The Merry Widow, Jerome Robbin’s Glass Pieces and West Side Story, Jirí Kylián’s Soldier’s Mass, Harald Lander’s Etudes, and the world-premier of Peter Quanz’s Symphony in Colour. 

In 2005, Judith made her German conducting debut in productions of La Cenerentola and Idomeneo with Ulmer Oper in Germany. In 2007 she made her Italian debut in Sulmona, Italy with COSI Festival’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She returned to Italy in 2008 to conduct La Boheme and an opera gala concert.

Prior to her work with the National Ballet of Canada, Judith served as the Staff Conductor of the San Francisco Opera, assistant to Maestro Donald Runnicles. While with the San Francisco Opera she conducted the 2005 Merola production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, garnering critical acclaims. Critic Joshua Kosman, in his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote:  “the evening's principal hero was conductor Judith Yan, who led this daunting score with astonishing precision and fluency. She never downplayed or regularized the score's sharp edges, but she made them sound natural and even commonsensical, like poetry recited in the speaker's own language”. This  performance was later included in the list of San Francisco Chronicle’s Top Ten Classical Performances of 2005

Along with The Rake’s Progress, she conducted the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize winning composer Lewis Spratlin’s Earthrise, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, and made her company debut in 2002 with Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera. As a member of the San Francisco Opera music staff, she served as the cover and rehearsal conductor for productions of La Damnation de Faust, Otello, Falstaff, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Hänsel und Gretel, Samson et Dalila and Guilio Cesare, and assisted on productions of St. Francois d'Assise, Jenufa, Alcina and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

While in San Francisco, she met acclaimed American composer Jake Heggie, which led to her conducting the Houston Grand Opera’s workshop recording of The End of the Affair. She also conducted San Francisco Conservatory ‘s 2006 production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, in a performance described as in San Francisco Classical voice as “both passionate and precise, (creating) wonders from the Conservatory orchestra, with long passages of exceptional playing.”

Prior to her appointment at the San Francisco Opera she served as the Canadian Opera Company's Conductor-in-Residence, a position created for her by then General Director, the late Richard Bradshaw. For the Canadian Opera Company, she conducted in the Altamira-sponsored outdoor concerts, a workshop production of Alexina Louie’s The Scarlet Princess, and Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Critic Peter Dyson, in his review for Opera Magazine, wrote: “The chamber orchestra, under Judith Yan’s energetic conducting, skillfully projected the score's rhythmic variety…its striking harmonic shifts, always allied to and furthering the action on stage.”

While at the COC, she also served as rehearsal and cover conductor for productions of Xerse, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo, Il barbiere di Sivilglia, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Die verkaufte Braut, and Pel!éas et Mélisande. During her tenure with the Canadian Opera Company, she collaborated with members of Stratford Festival, Ballet Jorgen and the Toronto Symphony on a program of Prokofiev, Bernstein and Gounod in the Romeo and Juliet MODD project.

The 2009/10 season includes the world premier of Peter Quanz’s In Colour (Lubchenko), John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev), Sir Wright’s Giselle, James Kuldelka’s The Nutcracker, and a recording of new works by  principal dancer and composer, Guillaume Cote. She looks forward to conducting Britten’s Albert Herring for Opera on the Avalon, a summer festival in St. Johns, Newfoundland, of which she has recently been appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor.

Judith Yan was a student of the late Maestro Pierre Hetu.

 












Headlines from San Francisco Chronicle (The Rake’s Progress, San Francisco Opera Merola)

"Tricky Stravinsky piece beautifully rendered by assured Merola singers and fluent conducting"

 

"Yan teases out best of The Rake's Progress."

 

"Judith Yan's performance made the score's sharp edges sound natural and even commonsensical, like poetry recited in the speaker's own language."


Reviews (The Rake’s Progress)

 

 "...the evening's principal hero was conductor Judith Yan, who led this daunting score with astonishing precision and fluency...the rhythmic language is full of dislocations and sudden U-turns, and too many performances - even by first-tier conductors - end up lurching drunkenly from one downbeat to the next. Yan's performance, by contrast, moved as fluidly and securely as any I've ever heard. She never downplayed or regularized the score's sharp edges, but she made them sound natural and even commonsensical, like poetry recited in the speaker's own language"  Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Opera Merola, The Rake’s Progress, San Francisco Chronicle)


"...Anne was a really exciting, flesh-and-blood character. That made her interaction with Baba all the more poignant.  It's not that these things aren't in the score already - it's just that you seldom witness them, leaving the mistaken impression that Stravinsky's only full-length opera is a dry, desiccated bore. I know it isn't, because the first performance I ever heard with Richard Lewis in 1962 - moved me to tears. 

 

I've been searching for that human feeling ever since. A good deal of credit goes to conductor Judith Yan, who made the astringent score sound as lyrical as Puccini ( not a bad thing, no matter what critics more austere than I want you to believe), and supported her singers like few main-stage conductors ever do." Stephanie von Buchau (San Francisco Opera Merola, The Rake’s Progress, Bay Area Reporter)


"It's a tricky blend to sound smoothly, but conductor Judith Yan led her musicians with great power and style." ( San Francisco Opera Merola, The Rake’s Progress, San Francisco Classical Voice)


Reviews from previous productions


“Yan's leadership, both passionate and precise, created wonders from the Conservatory student orchestra, with long passages of exceptional playing.” Janos Gereben (San Francisco Conservatory, Le Nozze di Figaro, San Francisco Classcial assical Voice, April 2006)


"Conducted with understated verve by Judith Yan, Mozart's vibrant score sounds brisk and nuanced, its blend of ornate seriousness and plain-spoken melody melding superbly." Joshua Kosman (San Francisco Opera, La Finta Giardiniera The San Francisco Chronicle, April 2002)

"The music glistened under the baton of conductor Judith Yan…textures were lucid and the lyric line convincingly sustained." John Bender (San Francisco Opera, La Finta Giardiniera, Opera Canada, Fall 2002)

"At the Nov. 26th performance, COC conductor-in-residence Judith Yan conducted the company's Ensemble Studio orchestra authoritatively in a sensitive reading that encompassed both the lyricism and brutality of Britten's great score." Paul Baker (Canadian Opera Company, The Rape of Lucretia, Opera Canada, March, 2000)

"The chamber orchestra under Judith Yan's energetic conducting (November 26) skillfully projected the score's rhythmic variety and its striking harmonic shifts, always allied to and furthering the action on stage." Peter Dysan (Canadian Opera Company, The Rape of Lucretia, Opera, March, 2000)

"The second excerpt was conducted by Judith Yan, making up for her lack of years with an assured technique." Warren Wilson (Canadian Opera Company, Altamira Concerts Harbourfront, The Globe and Mail, August 27th, 1998)

Contact information                                                     

Judith Yan

jyan@judithyan.com