Illinois Philharmonic names Kirov as music director

Tue May 09, 2017 at 12:30 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Stilian Kirov Photo 2

Stilian Kirov has been selected as the next music director of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kirov was one of five finalists who led the southwest suburban orchestra this past season. He conducted the IPO in a program of Rachmaninoff, Ligeti and Kodaly in January.

“I’m very, very excited,” said the 33-year-old Bulgarian conductor in an interview this week. “It seems like such a great community and such a wonderful organization so I’m very much looking forward.”

Kirov added that he felt a great rapport with IPO executive director, Christina Salerno. “We share the same enthusiasm and ‘think big’ approach, and having a partner like her is also very exciting. I think the possibilities are limitless.”

Kirov, who also helms the Symphony in C in New Jersey and the Bakersfield (California) Symphony Orchestra, said he had a good feeling about the IPO when he led the ensemble in January.

“I felt welcomed immediately,” he said. “I felt great support from the community for the orchestra. I think the musicians are quite brilliant and this creates a great place to grow the orchestra further artistically.”

Kirov’s initial contract is for three years, through the 2019-20 season.

The Juilliard graduate also holds a master’s degree in conducting from the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. In addition to working as assistant conductor to Bernard Haitink with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Kirov has served terms as associate conductor of the Seattle Symphony and Memphis Symphony, and as music director of the Memphis Youth Symphony.

While the programming for the Philharmonic’s 17-18 season was largely set before the appointment, Kirov said he has been given leeway to make some adjustments.

“We will make some exciting additions to the programs,” he said. “I think we need to be careful in balancing the programs–doing some new music as well as the standard masterpieces and pieces by famous composers that are not so well known.”

For instance he has added a work by his compatriot Pancho Vladigerov to the season lineup. “It’s a very Romantic piece and I think it would be interesting for audiences to hear a program by a composer who is not so well known here.”

Kirov said that he would also continue his predecessor David Danzmayr’s emphasis on American music with a special eye toward the contemporary.

“What I would really like to invest in is not only performing American music but also nurturing the future of American music,” he said. “I believe young composers need a platform to support their pieces and that’s something I would like to develop in the future.”

The IPO board of directors officially approved Kirov’s appointment Tuesday morning and he was introduced to board members, donors, musicians and staff at a luncheon afterward. Kirov will meet subscribers at an event this evening.

Stilian Kirov opens the 40th season of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra 7:30 p.m. October 14 at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights. The program includes the Beethoven “Triple” Concerto and Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony.; 708-481-7774.

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3 Responses to “Illinois Philharmonic names Kirov as music director”

  1. Posted May 09, 2017 at 10:05 pm by Gail burkett


  2. Posted May 11, 2017 at 1:01 pm by Dragomir Tsanov


  3. Posted May 11, 2017 at 10:37 pm by Richard Moutvic

    The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra could not have made a more thrilling selection for Music Director. Stilian Kirov has the experience to lead the IPO into uncharted musical territory. It is with great pleasure that we welcome Mr. Kirov to the IPO family.

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