Nicole - Headshot A 2018Conductor | Artistic Director

Nicole Paiement has gained an international reputation as a conductor of contemporary music and opera. Her numerous recordings include many world premiere works.

Maestro Paiement’s 2012 Dallas Opera debut conducting Peter Maxwell Davies’ 1979 thriller, The Lighthouse earned rave reviews. Subsequently, Paiement was appointed Principal Guest Conductor at The Dallas Opera. Paiement has since returned to Dallas to conduct performances of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers, as well as the critically acclaimed and highly anticipated world premiere of Joby Talbot’s opera Everest, Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Douglas Cuomo’s Arjuna’s Dilemma. In 2018, Paiement conducted the US premiere of Michel Van Der Aa’s Sunken Garden, and will return in 2019 with a double bill of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and La Voix Humane by Poulenc.

As Artistic Director of San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle, Paiement has conducted many new productions, including: world premieres of Lou Harrison’s final version of Young Caesar, Dante De Silva’s commissioned opera Gesualdo, Prince of Madness (presented as a graphic opera), Luciano Chessa’s commissioned opera A Heavenly Act, the commissioned chamber version of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, the premiere of the re-orchestration of Terence Blanchard’s Champion in collaboration with SFJAZZ Center; the West Coast premieres of John Rea’s re-orchestration of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck and Philip Glass’ Orphée; Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts; Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar; Francis Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias; Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel; the American Premieres of Adam Gorb’s Anya 17 and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness; the San Francisco Bay Area return of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; a new production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse;  Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles; and Jonathan Dove’s Flight.  

Most recently, Opera Parallèle has performed Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince and a new double bill of Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus and Berstein’s Trouble in Tahiti in collaboration with SFJAZZ. In the 2018/19 season Paiement conducted Today it Rains, a commissioned opera by Laura Kaminsky based on Georgia O’Keeffe, a return season of The Little Prince and Opera Parallèle’s debut at Phillip Glass’ Days & Nights Festival. 

Additionally, Paiement has served as the Artistic Director of the BluePrint Project at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) where she has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works from many living American composers. At SFCM, she holds the Jean and Josette Deleage Distinguished Chair in New Music. Paiement previously served as the Director of Ensembles at the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC). In 2014, she was awarded the UCSC Eminent Professor Award. In 2015, she received the Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship in recognition of her outstanding contributions and achievement in artistic scholarship and teaching. 

In 2016, Paiement was awarded the American Composer’s Forum “Champion of New Music Award” for her outstanding contributions to contemporary music.

Ms. Paiement is a very active guest conductor. This past year she has conducted at Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival (2016 – 2018) and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Other prior engagements include Puts’ Silent Night at The Atlanta Opera, Washington National Opera for the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s The Dictator’s Wife and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs by Mason Bates for Seattle Opera.

Upcoming engagements include the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s If I Were You with Merola Opera, San Francisco. Followed by include debuts at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, Opéra de Montréal for Benjamin’s Written on Skin and the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Joby Talbot’s Everest.

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