Maestra Lidiya Yankovskaya will present the Bienen School of Music’s convocation address on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at 1 p.m. in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

Lidiya Yankovskaya is a fiercely committed advocate for Slavic masterpieces, operatic rarities, and contemporary works on the leading edge of classical music. She has conducted more than 40 world premieres, including 17 operas, and her strength as a visionary collaborator has guided new perspectives on staged and symphonic repertoire from Carmen and Queen of Spades to Price and Prokofiev. Her daring performances before and amid the pandemic earned recognition from the Chicago Tribune, which praised her as “the very model of how to survive adversity, and also how to thrive in it,” while naming her 2020 Chicagoan of the Year.

In the 2022-23 season, Yankovskaya makes a series of major orchestral debuts, including performances with Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Sacramento Philharmonic, Knoxville Symphony, and Richmond Symphony. She returns to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for their MusicNOW series, conducting a work by CSO Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery. She also debuts at Santa Fe Opera in a new production of Dvořák’s Rusalka, at Staatsoper Hamburg with Eugene Onegin, and at English National Opera, conducting a new staged production of Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. She leads the long-awaited world premieres of Edward Tulane at Minnesota Opera and The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing at Chicago Opera Theater, where she also conducts the Chicago premiere of Szymanowski’s Król Roger.

Since her appointment as Elizabeth Morse and Genius Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater in 2017, Yankovskaya has led the Chicago premieres of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, Rachmaninov’s Aleko, Joby Talbot’s Everest, Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus, as well as the world premiere of Dan Shore’s Freedom Ride. Elsewhere, she has recently conducted Carmen at Houston Grand Opera, Don Giovanni at Seattle Opera, Pia de’ Tolomei at Spoleto Festival USA, Der Freischütz at Wolf Trap Opera, Ellen West at New York’s Prototype Festival, and Taking Up Serpents at Washington National Opera and the Glimmerglass Festival. On the concert stage, recent engagements include Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields with Bang on a Can All-Stars and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street at Carnegie Hall.

Yankovskaya is founder and artistic director of the Refugee Orchestra Project, which proclaims the cultural and societal relevance of refugees through music, bringing that message to hundreds of thousands of listeners around the world. She has also served as artistic director of the Boston New Music Festival and Juventas New Music Ensemble, which was the recipient of multiple NEA grants and National Opera Association Awards under her leadership. Her belief in the importance of mentorship has fueled the establishment of Chicago Opera Theater’s Vanguard Initiative, an investment in new opera that includes a two-year residency for emerging opera composers.

Yankovskaya holds a BA in music and philosophy from Vassar College with a focus on piano, voice, and conducting, and earned an MM in conducting from Boston University. She is an alumna of Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors and the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship and is the proud recipient of two Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards. She has been a featured speaker at the League of American Orchestras and Opera America conferences and served as U.S. Representative to the 2018 World Opera Forum in Madrid.

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

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