Erik Nielsen is a conductor equally at home in opera and in concert.

A pianist since an early age, he later studied oboe and harp as a double major at The Juilliard School and conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music. He moved to Germany in 2001 as the harpist in the Berlin Philharmonic’s Orchestra Academy.

In 2002 he began a 10-year association with the Frankfurt Opera, beginning as a Korrepetitor (pianist) and later as a Kapellmeister. There he amassed a large repertoire from Monteverdi to Lachenmann.

Erik conducted the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra (Bilbao Orkesta Sinfonikoa) for the first time in 2012 in Korngold’s TOTE STADT and was named Chief Conductor in September 2015.  He will step down as Music Director in 2024 after 9 completed seasons. 

Additionally he was Music Director of TheaterBasel (2016-2018) and most recently was appointed the Chief Conductor of the Tiroler Festspiele Erl in 2022.  

Upcoming projects for the 23/24 season include completing the entire RING CYCLE in addition to several concerts with the Tiroler Festspiele Erl.  He conducts AIDA in Frankfurt and a double-bill of OEDIPUS REX with a world premier ANTIGONE by Samy Moussa with the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam. 

Recent engagements include SALOME in Zürich, RUSALKA and NORMA with the Semperoper Dresden, a world premier of Manfred Trojahn's EURYDICE DIE LIEBENDEN, BLIND in Amsterdam, and PETER GRIMES, DAS RHEINGOLD and Krenek’s KARL V at the Bayerische Staatsoper.

He has conducted orchestras throughout Spain, including the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, the RTVE Madrid and the orchestras of Santiago de Compostela, Sevilla and Valladolid and also the JONDE Spanish National Youth Orchestra.  This season, he makes his debut in Krakow and in Bratislava and returns to Madrid.   

In 2009 he was awarded The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award by the Solti Foundation U.S.