Passionate artistry and impressive technical command characterise rising international conductor Kelly Kawai Lam, who has performed on stages throughout the world. Lam has recently been Assistant Conductor for Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre in Prague, Czech Republic, where she served as Conducting Apprentice for the renowned young artist festival Prague Summer Nights. She was a Conducting Fellow with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2021-2022 season under JoAnn Falletta, for whom she continues to assist and cover. She made her professional symphonic debut with the BPO in July 2022. Further assistant conducting roles have been with the Mannes Orchestra and the MACE Ensemble in 2020-2022. Between 2015-2020, she was the Founder and Artistic Director of LAM House, a salon-style concert series in New York City where she collaborated with visual artists, composers, musicians and poets to create sold-out interdisciplinary events. From 2016-2019, she took part in the International Conductors’ Festival in Kiev, Ukraine, where she was invited to conduct the Lyatoshynsky Ensemble, a professional orchestra in the capital.
An ardent advocate for historically under-represented groups in classical music, Lam has conducted the National Sawdust Ensemble for the world premieres of music by women and non-binary composers such as Amelia Brey and Su Jin Kang for the Blueprint Fellowship created by composer Paola Prestini. Further world premieres include Echoes from the Darkness, a chamber opera by Emmy-nominated composer John Califra; and Adolphus Hailstork’s When Lilacs First in the Courtyard Bloom’d on Governor’s Island with award-winning chamber choir Cantori NY, among others.
Trained in France, Russia and the USA, Lam’s approach combines a clear baton technique and brilliant scholarship with an artistic sensitivity and wisdom that is rare among her generation. Major conducting teachers and mentors include David Angus (Boston Lyric Opera); six-time ASCAP programming winner Mark Shapiro (The Juilliard School/Mannes School of Music); David Hayes (Mannes School of Music/Curtis Institute of Music); and Alexander Polishchuk (Saint Petersburg Conservatory), who served as one of the last assistants to the great Russian conducting pedagogue Ilya Musin. She has attended prestigious masterclasses in New York, Baltimore and Finland by well-respected teachers such as Jorma Panula, Markand Thakar, and Paul Nadler.
Lam is a top graduate of the Mannes School of Music/The New School in New York City, where she received her Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting and was a Presidential Scholar. She is the recipient of the Valerie Feuer Leadership Award and Deans’ Award for outstanding contributions to the Mannes School of Music. She is also an alumna of the Nadia Boulanger Institute (European American Musical Alliance) in Paris, France, where she completed rigorous studies in counterpoint, solfège, harmony and score-reading with Dr. Philip Lasser, Dr. Kyle Blaha and Professor Narcís Bonet, graduating with distinction. She will participate in OAcademy’s prestigious and innovative Artist Diploma program beginning in Spring 2024, led by renowned conductors and educators Carlos Miguel Prieto (North Carolina Symphony), Alexander Shelley (National Arts Centre/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) and Scott Wilson (Guildhall School of Music and Drama).
Lam also holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University in History of Art and Architecture, where she worked closely with internationally-acclaimed scholars Dr. Deborah Howard and Dr. Frank Fehrenbach, under whose guidance she produced two dissertations on the music and art of the Italian Renaissance. She is a winner of the Elinor Nahm Prize for Excellence in Italian and has fine working knowledge of French, German, Spanish, Russian and Czech. Originally from Hong Kong, she grew up in the United Kingdom and is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.