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Latvian-born, Ainars Rubikis came to international attention as winner of the 2010 Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition. The following year, he was recipient of the second Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award and subsequently conducted the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester at the Salzburger Festspiele. From 2018 to 2022, Ainars served as Music Director of the Komische Oper Berlin, gaining critical praise for his consistent high-quality performances across such a diverse range of operatic repertoire. He previously served as Music Director and Chief Conductor of Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre from 2012 to 2014, and was awarded a prestigious Golden Mask Award as “Best Conductor” for the Company’s new production of Bernstein’s Mass. He won his second “Best Conductor” Golden Mask award in 2020 for his new production of Rusalka with the Bolshoi Theatre.

Upcoming projects include debuts with the George Enescu Festival, Opéra National de Montpellier (Aida) and Adelaide Symphony (with James Ehnes) and a new production of Boris Godunov at Tiroler Landestheater, Innsbruck.

During his tenure with the Komische Oper he conducted a remarkably broad range of opera and concert repertoire to great acclaim and his many new productions there included Die Tote Stadt, La traviata and the world premiere of M – eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder, together with Die Zauberflöte, The Love for Three Oranges, Cendrillon, Der Rosenkavalier and Rigoletto amongst others. During his final season, titles included Œdipe, Onegin, Schwanda, Mahagonny and Barrie Kosky’s new production of Falstaff. Guest opera has also included regular visits to the Bolshoi Theatre; his acclaimed debut with the Welsh National Opera (Eugene Onegin); and, prior to taking up his Komische Oper Berlin appointment Barrie Kosky’s masterly production of Die Nase. Past seasons have included the Finnish National Opera (La traviata), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Carmen); Theater Basel (La forza del destino); productions over many years for the Latvian National Opera; Oberammergau (Der fliegende Holländer, Nabucco); New National Theatre Tokyo (Carmen) and the Gran Teatre del Liceu (Carmen).

Past symphonic seasons have included the Bamberger Symphoniker, Ulster Orchestra, Orchestre national d’Île-de-France, Jyväskylä Sinfonia (St Matthew Passion), Innsbrucker Festwochen der alten Musik, Poznan Philharmonic, Residentie Orkest (Hague Philharmonic), Basque National (Euskadi) Orchestra, Queensland Symphony, Moscow State Symphony, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Heidelberg Symphony, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Brussels Philharmonic, Estonian National Symphony and the Budapest Philharmonic. UK engagements have included the BBC Scottish Symphony and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Edinburgh International Festival (with Bamberger Symphoniker and Komische Oper Berlin).

Born in Riga, Ainars studied piano and violin at the Emil Darzins School – Latvia’s leading institution for outstanding young musicians – and was a member of the Riga Cathedral Choir, where he also pursued his vocal studies. He later gained his degree in choral conducting from the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Music Academy and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir Prize. He pursued postgraduate studies in orchestral conducting with Andris Vecumnieks, also participating in masterclasses with Mariss Jansons and Zsolt Nagy and served as Assistant Conductor of the Latvian National Opera.

From 2000 to 2005, he served as Artistic Director of the long-established Dziesmuvara, the University of Latvia chamber choir, and from 2006 to 2010, was a member and conductor of the renowned Latvian Radio Choir. He also took part in the 2010 Internationales Kammermusikfest Lockenhaus with Kremerata Baltica and Gidon Kremer and now returns regularly to the Latvian National Symphony, Sinfonietta Riga and the Latvian National Opera.