James Meena consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium in concert, opera and ballet.
Maestro Meena has held principal and resident conducting posts with the Cleveland Ballet, Toledo Symphony, and Opera Carolina, Opera Grand Rapids and Toledo Opera, in addition to guest conducting appearances that include a nationally televised Thanksgiving concert for the Korean Broadcasting System Symphony; performances of Stravinsky’s tour de force La Sacre du printemps with the National Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan; concerts with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra in the new Cairo Opera House; and symphony concerts with the orchestras of the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, the Orchestra Regionale Toscana in Italy, the Charlotte Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Orlando Symphony, the National Symphony R.O.C (Taiwan), the Pittsburgh Symphony and the KBS Symphony (Seoul) and the Toledo Symphony.
In the field of grand opera, he has been engaged as guest conductor with Arizona Opera, Edmonton Opera, the National Arts Center Ottawa, Manitoba Opera, NYCity Opera, Opera Pacific, l’Opera de Montreal, Pittsburgh Opera, Portland Opera, Opera Pacific, Sarasota Opera, Utah Opera, the Washington Opera and his home companies in Charlotte and Grand Rapids. On the opera stage, he has conducted legendary singers including Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves, James McCracken, Mignon Dunn, Marilyn Horne, Jerome Hines, Diana Soviero, Jerry Hadley, Mark Delavan and Marcello Giordani.
Recent engagements included the new MLK-themed music drama I Dream for which he is executive producer as well as music director, performances of Turandot in the Teatro Antiche Taormina and Teatro Greco Siracusa, Tosca at the Luglio Festivale Trapani in Sicilia, a double-bill of Rachmaninoff’s rarelyperformed Aleko paired with Pagliacci as well as La fanciulla del West, both with New York City Opera; Le nozze di Figaro for Teatro Sociale Rovigo Italy, La Fanciulla del West for five prestigious Italian theaters: Teatro del Giglio, Lucca Italy, Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Teatro Alighieri di Ravenna, Teatro Pavarotti di Modena and Teatro Goldoni di Livorno, plus Rigoletto, The Magic Flute, Carmen and Yvgeny Onegin with Opera Carolina and Opera Grand Rapids, a Gala concert with Renee Fleming and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra; Porgy & Bess with Margaret Island Open-Air Theatre in Budapest for their Summer Festival, and La bohème with the prestigious Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, La bohème with Opéra de Montréal, and Masterworks Concerts with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
For Manitoba Opera, he conducted the première of Transit of Venus by the Canadian team of composer Victor Davies and librettist Maureen Hunter, which was recorded for national broadcast on the CBC. His Opera Carolina performances of Faust, Eugene Onegin, and Il trovatore are captured on recording for NPR World of Opera.
James Meena is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. His principal conducting teachers include Thomas Michalak (New Jersey Symphony), Robert Page (Cleveland Orchestra), Rudolph Fellner (Pittsburgh Opera), and Boris Halip (Bolshoi Ballet), with whom he also studied violin. He has served as Assistant Conductor to Andre Previn, Gunther Schuller, Michael Tilson Thomas, Anton Guadagno, and Anton Coppola. For several seasons, he was Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Opera, where he made his operatic début conducting Die Zauberflöte.
He made his professional début with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducting Haydn’s monumental oratorio The Creation. Mo. Meena was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by his undergraduate alma mater in 1997 for his commitment to visionary excellence and growth of cultural institutions.