Born 1977 in Wuppertal (Germany), Jan Moritz Onken received his formation as a conductor at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire under the guidance of Prof. Nikolai Alexeev.
During internships at the Bayreuther Festspiele, at the Mariinsky Theater, at the Belcanto Festival in Dordrecht and at the Verbier Festival, he recommended himself to Pierre Boulez, Valery Gergiev and Nelson Freire.
In 2003, he worked as an assistant to Mariss Jansons, simultaneously gaining experience as a guest-conductor, conducting a number of orchestras in different countries, performing an extensive repertoire.
In 2010, he received an award at the “10th International Conducting Competition in Budapest”.
Orchestras Jan Moritz Onken has conducted include the Academic Symphony Orchestra St. Petersburg, Die Tonika Berlin, Deutsche Oper Berlin, OSM Camerata (South Africa), Kammerorchester Paretz (Germany), Hwaum Chamber Orchestra Seoul (South Korea), the “Orchestre Cosmopolitain d’ Alger”, the National Symphony Orchestra of Algeria, the Philharmonic Orchestras of Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Uralsk (Kazakhstan), Abakhan (Siberia), Dushanbe (Tadjikistan), the Kamerata St. Petersburg and the Bard Symphony Orchestra (USA).
From 2010 to 2013, Jan Moritz Onken worked as a musical coach and assistant for German repertoire at the Mariinsky Theater.
Since 2007, he has been able to lead the Student Symphony Orchestras of the National Conservatoires of Almaty, St. Petersburg, Bloemfontein (South Africa) and Tiblis (Georgia) thanks to a DAAD-Grant, which has gained him recognition in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Berliner Tageszeitung, Spiegel, ZDF-Heute Journal, 3sat Kulturzeit and Deutsche Welle.
In 2011, he was invited to conduct at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland performing Hans Eisler’s “14 ways of describing the rain” with Frans Helmerson, Dmitrij Sitkovetsky, Nobuko Imai, Eugenia Zukerman, Alexander Bedenko, Elena Bashkirova and Benedict Nelson.
In May 2013, he had his debut with the St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra at the Great Hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmony followed by an Opera-Gala with Soloists from the Mariinsky Theater in Abakhan, Siberia, organized by UNESCO.
From July to December 2013, Onken worked as the Artistic Director of the OSM Camerata in Bloemfontein, South Africa, leading several performances, including a performance of Kurt Weil’s “7 deadly sins” with the OSM Camerata at the University of Free State.
In this context, he also conducted a CD-production of three works for the left hand (Ravel/Prokofjev/Britten) with the French pianist Maxime Zecchini and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. A French-South African co-production (Ad Vitam records / Harmonia Mundi), this recording gained high recognition in numerous press reviews in France and Germany, (France Musique, ffff Telerama, Paris-Berlin, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, L’Echo, Midi Libre, Hifi Video, Audiofederation, Klassik Heute ect.)
In November 2013, he conducted a Tour of the OSM Camerata to Russia with concerts in Pretoria and St. Petersburg.
Following an invitation from the German Embassy in Tadjikistan, he worked at the State Opera of Dushanbe from April to June 2015, conducting a new production of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Iolanta’ and several other Opera performances and concerts.
In September 2015, he introduced the idea of the Silk Road Symphony Orchestra in the context of the 5th BMW Foundation Global Table in Tanzania.
Followed by the 1st Global Forum of the BMW Foundation in Berlin, he presented the idea of the Silk Road Cultural Belt – a Digital Silk Road – with the Silk Road Symphony Orchestra as its background.
To equip these ideas with a legal background, Jan Moritz Onken became one of the founders of the Callias Foundation in Berlin.
In June 2016, the Silk Road Symphony Orchestra had its debut in the RBB in Berlin followed by several performances in 2017.