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Cantor Manevich’s third and final installment of his fall music program will be with his dear friend Semyon Bychkov, Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic. Born just a year apart in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) to Jewish parents, both Cantor Manevich and Semyon Bychkov studied at the esteemed Glinka Choir School, one of the oldest professional academic institutions in Russia.
It was at Glinka that Bychkov, then 13, had his first lesson in conducting. Four years later, he was accepted at the Leningrad Conservatory to study with the legendary Ilya Musin, and within three years, had won the influential Rachmaninov Conducting Competition. Denied the prize of conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic, Bychkov left the former Soviet Union, and at the age of 22, he emigrated to the United States.
By the time he returned to St. Petersburg in 1989 as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic, Bychkov had become an American citizen and enjoyed success in the U.S. as Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic. His international career, which began in France with Opéra de Lyon and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, took off and resulted in invitations to conduct the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He has served as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris, Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, and Chief Conductor of the Dresden Semperoper.
Bychkov strongly believes that his Russian upbringing is of crucial importance to the man and artist he has become. “Those years were vital,” he says. “Even the negative aspects of my time in the Soviet Union were of value. They taught me to distinguish between what is positive and what is negative. And the negatives make you stronger. … This, I guess, is what people call ‘roots.’ I think the deeper the roots and the wider they spread the better. And, of course, you do not grow up alone. I had the extraordinary privilege to encounter people who played an enormous role in my upbringing, musical and personal.”
In 2013, Bychkov guest conducted the Czech Philharmonic for the first time. Two years later, the Philharmonic announced Bychkov’s appointment as its next chief conductor and music director, effective with the 2018-2019 season. His second season saw the culmination of The Tchaikovsky Project, an exhaustive exploration of Tchaikovsky’s music, which began in 2015. In addition to the release on Decca Classics of all of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, the three piano concertos, Romeo & Juliet, Serenade for Strings, and Francesca da Rimini, Bychkov and the Orchestra gave Tchaikovsky residencies in Prague, Tokyo, Vienna, and Paris and appeared together for the first time at the BBC Proms. Highlights in Prague included the first time that Bychkov led the Orchestra in Smetana’s Má vlast.
Semyon Bychkov was named Conductor of the Year by the International Opera Awards in 2015.
Thursday, December 17
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
3935 Macomb Street NW
Washington, DC 20016
11810 Falls Road
Potomac, MD 20854
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