Jurjen Hempel studied conducting with David Porcelijn and Kenneth Montgomery at the Utrecht Conservatory, and already during his studies was invited to assist Edo de Waart, Hans Vonk and David Robertson. At the invitation of Seiji Ozawa he attended the Tanglewood Conducting Class where he worked with Bernard Haitink and Lorin Maazel. In May 1995 he was a prizewinner in the first Sibelius Conductors’ Competition in Helsinki, which immediately led to invitations from many Finnish orchestras.
From 1996 to 1999 Jurjen Hempel was Assistant Conductor to Valery Gergiev at the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and in May 1997 made his highly acclaimed debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with that orchestra. A few months earlier he had made his debut with the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague, since when he has been a frequent visitor to both orchestras.
His reputation as a conductor of contemporary music has led him to work on a regular basis with ensembles such as the London Sinfonietta, the Asko Ensemble, the Nieuw Ensemble, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, the Schoenberg Ensemble and the Orkest de Volharding. In 2005 he was appointed Music Director of the Geneva-based Ensemble Contrechamps, the first person to hold this position in the ensemble’s 25 year history.
Jurjen Hempel also has a busy career as an operatic conductor. Notable engagements have included Salome for the Gergiev Festival in Rotterdam, as a result of which he was invited to conduct the same opera at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the first Dutch conductor in the history of this famous theatre. He was subsequently invited to conduct a residency of the Mariinsky Opera at the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv in June 1998. In the spring of 2004 he conducted Shadowtime by Brian Ferneyhough at the Munich Biennale, which was later also seen in Paris, London and New York. In 2006 he conducted Don Giovanni with Opera Zuid and in 2010 Rolf Liebermann’s L’école des femmes at the Opéra National de Bordeaux.
Engagements in recent seasons have included concerts with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Finnish Radio Symphony, the Tapiola Sinfonietta, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège, the Orquestra Nacional do Porto, the Basel Symphony, the Bochum Sinfoniker, the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. In the UK he is a regular guest with the BBC Scottish Symphony, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Ulster Orchestra as well as the BBC Symphony Orchestra with whom he made his Proms debut in 2005. He is also Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Youth Orchestra.
Jurjen Hempel has recorded for Decca/Argo, Composer’s Voice, Elektra Nonesuch and Point Music.