New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jacques Lacombe is renowned as a remarkable conductor whose artistic integrity and rapport with orchestras have propelled him to international stature.
Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal from 2002 to 2006, Maestro Lacombe led the orchestra in more than 100 performances during his tenure. He served for three years as Music Director of both orchestra and opera with the Philharmonie de Lorraine, Associate Conductor with the Orchestre Lyrique de Région Avignon Provence, and has been Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières since 2006. In September 2010, he succeeded Neeme Järvi as Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; a contract that was recently extended through 2016.
Since that appointment, Lacombe has garnered popular and critical praise for his creative programming and development of the NJSO. Under his leadership, the Orchestra’s “Man & Nature” Winter Festivals have included highly renowned performances of Tan Dun’s Water Concerto, Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire—with a realization of the composer’s “color organ”—and the commissioning of the Francesca Harper Project to create original choreography for Beethoven’s ballet The Creatures of Prometheus. He also created the multi-year “New Jersey Roots Project,” highlighting contemporary works by New Jersey composers.
In 2012/13, Lacombe spends guest weeks with the Montréal, Quebec, Toledo and Cincinnati symphony orchestras, and leads orchestral concerts for the Opéra de Nice. He conducts the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra throughout the season, with highlights including a jazz-themed season opener with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and the annual NJSO Winter Festival, which will feature performances of Holst’s The Planets, Tippet’s Symphony No. 4, Sibelius’ The Tempest and Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony. He returns to the Deutsche Oper Berlin to lead Bizet's Carmen.
Last season, Lacombe and the NJSO received national recognition at Carnegie Hall’s 2012 Spring for Music Festival, where he led the Orchestra, and pianist Marc-André Hamelin in the epic Busoni Piano Concerto. Anthony Tommasini wrote for the The New York Times, “It was an honor to be in the hall for the astonishing performance of the Busoni concerto.”
He also participated in the inaugural season of the new hall of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and led New Jersey Symphony Orchestra concerts with distinguished soloists including Frederica von Stade, Renée Fleming, André Watts, Gil Shaham, and Yefim Bronfman. In addition to recent engagements with the Toronto and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras and the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, and several tours and recordings with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Lacombe has worked abroad with the Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris, the Orquesta Filarmonica de Malaga in Spain and with orchestras in Monte-Carlo, Nice, Toulouse, Halle and throughout Eastern Europe. He has also led the Victoria Orchestra (Melbourne) and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
A seasoned operatic conductor, Lacombe returned to the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden in June 2012 to lead Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu in La Bohème. Other recent highlights include an all-star production of Tosca at the ROH, the world premiere of John Estacio’s Lillian Alling with the Vancouver Opera, Le Cid and the world premiere of Marius et Fanny with l’Opéra de Marseille, and many productions with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, including Un Ballo in Maschera, Ariadne auf Naxos, Der fliegende Holländer, Eugene Onegin, and Zemlinsky’s Der Traumgörge. Lacombe has also led a number of operatic rarities with the Deutsche Oper, including Die Dorfschule by Felix von Weingartner, Carl Orff’s Gisei – Das Opfer, and Waltershausen’s Oberst Chabert, which was produced by CPO in 2011 as a live CD. He has led productions with Opéra de Monte-Carlo, at the Teatro Regio in Turin, and with the Metropolitan Opera, where he led Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and Jules Massenet’s Werther.
He has recorded for the CPO and Analekta labels, and leads the Janáček’s Suite from The Cunning Little Vixen and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana on a recent release from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. His performances have been broadcast on PBS, the CBC, Mezzo TV in Europe, Arte TV in France and on Hungarian Radio-Television.
Born in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Québec, Jacques Lacombe received his musical training at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal and at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna. He received Québec’s highest civilian honor in 2012, when he was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec.