Noted for her vibrant performances in a wide diversity of musical styles, Joana Carneiro has attracted considerable attention as one of the most outstanding young conductors working today. In 2009, she was named Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony, succeeding Kent Nagano and becoming only the third music director in the 40-year history of the orchestra. She also currently serves as official guest conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra, working with the orchestra at least four weeks every year.
2013-14 marks Carneiro’s fifth season as Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony, where she has captivated audiences with her commanding stage presence and adventurous programming that has highlighted the works of several prominent contemporary composers, including John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Gabriela Lena Frank. The 2013-2014 Berkeley season features world premieres by Edmund Campion and Samuel Carl Adams, as well as works by Brett Dean, Kaija Saariaho and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Carneiro’s growing guest-conducting career continues to bring her all around the globe. In 2013-14, she makes debuts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Florida Orchestra. She returns to the Toronto, Gothenburg, Gävle, Malmö, Sydney, New Zealand symphonies and the National Symphony Orchestra of Spain.
Last season, Carneiro conducted highly successful returns to the Gothenburg, Gävle and Norrköping symphonies, debuts with the Swedish Radio Orchestra, Malmö Symphony, Norrlands Opera Orchestra, Residentie Orkest/Hague, Aachen Symphony of Germany, Euskadi Orchestra of Spain and Hong Kong Philharmonic. She returned to the Indianapolis Symphony in concerts with Thomas Hampson on a Mahler/Schumann program and conducted a highly successful world premiere of Santos, an oratorio by composer Gabriela Lena Frank and librettist Nilo Cruz with the San Francisco Girls Chorus, soprano Jessica Rivera and mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway and members of the Berkeley Symphony.
International highlights of previous seasons include appearances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Renee Fleming in the opening season of the U.A.E’s Royal Opera House in Oman, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Orchestra de Bretagne, Norrköping Symphony, Prague Philharmonia and the Orchestra Sinfonica del Teatro la Fenice at the Venice Biennale, as well as the Macau Chamber Orchestra and Beijing Orchestra at the International Music Festival of Macau. In the Americas, she has led the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, Grant Park Music Festival, Manhattan School of Music, Puerto Rico Symphony and São Paulo State Symphony.
In 2010, Carneiro led performances of Peter Sellars’s stagings of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms at the Sydney Festival, which won Australia’s Helpmann Award for Best Symphony Orchestra Concert in 2010. She conducted a linked project at the New Zealand Festival in 2011, and as a result was immediately invited to work with the Sydney Symphony and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras on subscription in 2013. In 2011, she led a ballet production of Romeo and Juliet with Companhia Nacional de Bailado in Portugal.
Increasingly in demand as an opera conductor, Carneiro made her Cincinnati Opera debut in 2011 conducting John Adams’ A Flowering Tree, which she also debuted with the Chicago Opera Theater and at La Cité de la Musique in Paris. In the 2008-09 season, she served as assistant conductor to Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Paris Opera’s premiere of Adriana Mater by Kaija Saariaho and led critically-acclaimed performances of Philippe Boesmans’s Julie in Bolzano, Italy.
As a finalist of the prestigious 2002 Maazel-Vilar Conductor’s Competition at Carnegie Hall, Carneiro was recognized by the jury for demonstrating a level of potential that holds great promise for her future career. In 2003-04, she worked with Maestros Kurt Masur and Christoph von Dohnanyi and conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as one of three conductors chosen for London’s Allianz Cultural Foundation International Conductors Academy. From 2002 to 2005, she served as Assistant Conductor of the L.A. Chamber Orchestra and as Music Director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles. From 2005 through 2008, she was an American Symphony Orchestra League Conducting Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where she worked closely with Esa-Pekka Salonen and led several performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.
A native of Lisbon, she began her musical studies as a violist before receiving her conducting degree from the Academia Nacional Superior de Orquestra in Lisbon, where she studied with Jean-Marc Burfin. Carneiro received her Masters degree in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University as a student of Victor Yampolsky and Mallory Thompson, and pursued doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, where she studied with Kenneth Kiesler. She has participated in master classes with Gustav Meier, Michael Tilson Thomas, Larry Rachleff, Jean Sebastian Bereau, Roberto Benzi and Pascal Rophe.
Carneiro is the 2010 recipient of the Helen M. Thompson Award, conferred by the League of American Orchestras to recognize and honor music directors of exceptional promise. In 2004, Carneiro was decorated by the President of the Portuguese Republic, Mr. Jorge Sampaio, with the Commendation of the Order of the Infante Dom Henrique.