Panamanian-American conductor Kalena Bovell is quickly becoming “one of the brightest stars in the world of classical music.” (Channel 3 News) Recently making her international conducting debut with the Chineke! Orchestra, Bovell conducted works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Haydn, Dvorak, and the European premiere of Adolfus Hailstork’s Epitaph for a Man Who Dreamed.
Bovell is currently Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra where she conducts a number of Pops, Education, and Run-Out Concerts. Bovell worked with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra prior to her current appointment: in 2016 assisting former Music Director Mei-Ann Chen's farewell performances. Bovell made her unofficial conducting debut with the Memphis Symphony in 2019 conducting Tony Award and Grammy Award winner Leslie Odom Jr. In addition to her work with the Memphis Symphony, Bovell is also conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony.
Bovell has held conducting fellowships with the Allentown Symphony and the Chicago Sinfonietta. She became Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta for 2016-2017 season and made her professional debut during the Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute concerts. Bovell has also served in Assistant Conductor roles with both St. Louis and Hartford Symphonies, and has covered well established conductors Gemma New and Carolyn Kuan.
In 2018, Bovell became Music Director of the Civic Orchestra of New Haven. During her tenure, she committed to deepening the artistic level of the orchestra while expanding its reach within the New Haven community. That same year, Bovell conducted two short operas for Hartford Opera Theater’s New in November. In 2019, Bovell was a guest conductor with the New Britain Symphony.
Sought after for her welcoming presence and unique perspectives, Bovell has been an invited guest speaker for various platforms and audiences. Most recently, she was a panelist for the III International Women Conductor’s Virtual Symposium, discussing her unorthodox journey as a conductor. Bovell has also spoken to various graduate school conducting students about the conducting profession and has participated in live online interviews via various social media platforms. As an education ambassador, Bovell has also engaged high school students, offering insight into her field and words of encouragement helping to empower the younger generation.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Bovell received a Master’s Degree and Graduate Professional Diploma in instrumental conducting from The Hartt School, where she studied with Edward Cumming. She graduated from Chapman University’s Hall-Musco Conservatory with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. In addition to conducting, Bovell is a published author, releasing her first poetry book titled “Dear Soul…” in 2009.