Juanjo Mena, Principal Conductor of the Cincinnati May Festival, is one of Spain's most distinguished international conductors. He has been Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, Artistic Director of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, Chief Guest Conductor of the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa and Principal Guest Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. He has worked with many prestigious orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Bamberger Symphoniker, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Bavarian Radio Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as with all the major orchestras in Spain.
He has conducted most of the leading orchestras in North America, including the Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Montreal and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
A guest of international festivals, he has appeared at the Stars of White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Hollywood Bowl, Grant Park (Chicago), Tanglewood and La Folle Journée (Nantes). He has led the BBC Philharmonic on tours of Europe and Asia, including performances in Cologne, Munich, Vienna, Madrid, Beijing and Seoul, and annual concerts at the BBC Proms in London.
His operatic work includes The Flying Dutchman, Salome, Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Fidelio and Erwartung and productions including Eugene Onegin in Genoa, The Marriage of Figaro inLausanne and Billy Budd in Bilbao.
He has made several recordings with the BBC Philharmonic, including recent releases of Ginastera’s orchestral works to mark the composer’s centenary, three discs of works by Manuel de Falla, one of which was a BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month, a Gabriel Pierné release which was a Gramophone Editor’s Choice, and works by Albéniz, Arriaga, Montsalvatge, Weber and Turina which have gained excellent reviews from the specialist music press. He has also recorded Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony for Hyperion with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, an interpretation which is said to “utterly redefine the terms under which past/current/future Turangalîlas need to be judged”. (Gramophone, October 2012).
Highlights of Maestro Mena’s 2020-21 season include return visits to the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Bamberger Symphoniker, NHK Tokyo, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra.