In 1996-1997 Jurjen Hempel was appointed Assistant Conductor to Valery Gergiev with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. In May 1997 he made his highly acclaimed debut with that orchestra in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. A few months earlier he made his debut with the The Hague Residentie Orchestra and received equal critical acclaim, as well as re-invitations with both orchestras.
His reputation as a conductor of contemporary music leads him to work on a regular base with ensembles as London Sinfonietta, the Asko Ensemble, the Nieuw Ensemble, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Ensemble Contrechamps in Geneva, the Schnberg Ensemble, and Orkest de Volharding. He is also Chef-conductor with the Netherlands Youth Orchestra.
Also in the operatic field Hempel became more engaged. Important activities in this area were the performance of Richard Strauss' Salom for the Gergiev Festival. As a result of this he was invited to conduct Salom as well at Gergiev's Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg being the first Dutch conductor ever in the history of this famous theatre. After the performance he was immediately invited to conduct a residency of the Mariinsky Opera Company at the New Israeli Opera Tel Aviv in June 1998. In the spring of 2004 he has conducted the long awaited opera Shadowtime by Brian Ferneyhough at the Munich Biennale. Later to be seen in Paris, London and New York.
Engagements in the past seasons included concerts with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Tapiola Sinfonietta, Orchestre Philharmonique de Lige, Orquestra Nacional do Porto, Basel Symphony Orchestra, Bochum Sinfoniker and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. He is a regular guest with BBC Symphony as well as BBC Scottish. With the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra Hempel maintains a special relationship of yearly re-invitations. In 2005 Hempel has been appointed Music Director of the Geneva based ensemble Contrechamps. He is the first to hold this position in the ensemble's 25-year-old history. In august of 2005 he made his debut at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. In 2006 he has conducted Don Giovanni with the Opera Zuid company.
Jurjen Hempel has made CD-recordings for Decca/Argo, Composer's Voice, Elektra Nonesuch and Point Music.