A Belgian national, Kessels studied at the Royal Flemish Conservatoire of Music in Antwerp. He has worked extensively across the world with companies including the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Flanders Opera, the Opera National de Paris and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
In 1998 he founded the HERMESensemble specialising in contemporary music. Since 2005, he has been a regular guest conductor for the Ballet at the Opéra National de Paris. He is also music director of Zomeropera Alden Biesen (Belgium), artistic director of HERMESensemble, guest conductor at The National Opera Sofia and member of the artistic direction at the Antwerp Royal Music Conservatoire.
Christopher Barron, Chief Executive of Birmingham Royal Ballet, said: “This appointment underpins our commitment to the highest quality of performance across all areas of the Company. As one of the major commissioners of new music for dance and a Company striving to develop both our repertoire and the art form, Koen’s contribution will be essential as we move forward.”
Kessels will conduct a number of performances of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker in December and will join the Company for its 2010 season.