Niklas Willén, the finest Swedish conductor of his generation, has held positions as Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Chief Conductor of the WDR Radio Orchestra Köln, General Music Director of the Volkstheater Rostock and Chief Conductor of the North German Philharmonic Rostock (“The North German Philharmonic, conducted by its chief conductor and General Music Director, Niklas Willén, played Mozart’s score [The Marriage of Figaro] in a fresh and stylish way that was also gallant and always well phrased. It was good to hear the music’s pulsating middle voices, the cantilena quality in the woodwind and an exquisite agility from the strings. From the beginning of the overture the orchestra played with amazing eagerness and a beautifully developed sound.” Michael Baumgartl - Norddeutsche Neueste Nachrichten, 12 April 2010), Chief Conductor of the Sønderjyllands Symphony Orchestra in Denmark and Chief Conductor of the Sundsvall Chamber Orchestra. He was born in Stockholm where he studied conducting and composition at the city’s Royal College of Music with conducting teachers who included Jorma Panula. This season he was immediately re-invited after making his debut with the Tonkünstler Orchester in Vienna and returns to Malmö Opera and Norrlands Opera.
Niklas Willén has toured Europe with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Sønderjyllands Symphony Orchestra. His career is increasingly focussed on Germany and throughout the Nordic countries with many of its principal orchestras and opera houses that include the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, in Norrköping, Stavanger, Malmö, Trondheim, Iceland, Tallinn and Swedish Radio Choir alongside the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Flanders Philharmonic, OFUNAM in Mexico, Brabants Orkest and Noordhollands Philharmonisch, NWD Philharmonie, Augsburg, Jena and Gera in Germany as well as the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and Ulster Orchestra. The review from his debut with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra in May ’11 read: “... he dazzled in Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3 … with such deep conviction, freedom and joy it was as though it could have been at least Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7” (Ruch Muzyczny) and range elsewhere from Germany: “Willén accentuated his great art and his intense musical interpretation of the Helios Overture and even more with Sibelius’s second.” (Wolfburger Allgemeine Zeitung) and in the UK “Totally enthralling under Willén’s baton, the tales of Scheherazade in Rimsky-Korsakov’s much-loved work were conveyed with intuitive musicianship …….” (Bournemouth Echo).
He has also conducted opera at Göteborgs Operan, the Royal Theatre in Stockholm and Norwegian National Opera in productions of “Il Barbière de Siviglia”, “Flying Dutchman”, “Madama Butterfly”, “Turandot” plus première’s of several new works that have included Peter Bengtson’s opera “The Maidens” and productions for Stockholm’s “Folkoperan” and Värmlandsoperan in Karlstad. His debut in The Merry Widow for Greek National Opera, Athens, was reviewed: “Niklas Willen showed that he knows well how to convey the airy, melodic music of Lehar. He conducted the orchestra with brio and abundant vibrancy, drawing out of GNO’s orchestra a sound which was well-formed and brilliant, ethereal and airy. He also offered consistent support to the soloists.” (Giannis Svolos - To Pontiki, 8 March 2012).
Niklas Willén has strong affiliations to repertoire of the classical, romantic and contemporary eras and he has recorded with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Royal Opera in Stockholm, Göteborgs Symphony Orchestra, Malmö Opera, Sønderjyllands Symphony Orchestra (Prokoviev’s complete Piano Concertos; “Willén is a superbly sympathetic partner, coaxing mischief from the orchestra to match Marshev at his cheekiest“, “Stunning and superb” and in Nielsen; “Willén's Nielsen is very adroitly paced …… Willén’s is a great performance …… a classic" Helios Overture), Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Sundsvall Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland (Volume 2 of Naxos’ complete orchestral music by Alfvén: "Listen as Niklas Willén teases the skittish polka (No. 6) from Alfvén's 'The Prodigal Son' ballet suite, or steers his players through the vehement fugue that rounds out his Symphony No. 2, and you'll appreciate why this release commands unreserved praise.”).
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