Ilan Volkovshowed himself to be a conductor of great sensitivity, intelligently and unfussily guiding the orchestra through the three strikingly different works. The Guardian Born in Israel in September 1976, Ilan Volkov began his conducting career at the age of nineteen. Following studies at London’s Royal College of Music, he secured positions as Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony.
In 2003 he was appointed Principal Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and subsequently became its Principal Guest Conductor in 2009. Between 2011 and 2014 he has held the post of Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Volkov’s arrival coincided with the opening of Harpa, Reykjavík’s visually striking new concert hall. In March 2012 he curated and directed a three-day festival of contemporary music, Tectonics, celebrating the centenary year of John Cage, exploring works by Icelandic composers and introducing the world premieres of music by, among others, Jesper Pedersen, Frank Denyer, Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson and Áki Ásgeirsson. “How can an orchestra, the nineteenth-century beast, be more radical and experimental? Is it possible? This is one of the questions that started me on a journey that led to the first Tectonics festival,” notes the conductor. Tectonics features programmes of classical modern music combined with other new music genres such as improvisation, electronics and rock. In 2013 Tectonics took place in two different cities, Reykjavik and Glasgow, with Iceland Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra respectively. Since 2014, Tectonics expanded even further with a residency at the Adelaide Festival with the Adelaide Symphony, as well as future Tectonics in Oslo, New York, Tel Aviv, London. A frequent guest with leading orchestras worldwide, Ilan Volkov works regularly with a wide range of ensembles, and appears in many of the foremost Festivals of the world, including Salzburg, Edinburgh, BBC Proms, Lucerne and Berlin. Highlights of his recent and forthcoming schedule include performances with the BBC Symphony and Stuttgart Opera, as well as CBSO, SWR Stuttgart, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, WDR Köln, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Equally active in the opera house as in the concert hall, Volkov has conducted Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin for San Francisco Opera, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Glyndebourne Festival, Peter Grimes for Washington National Opera, Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny for Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle with the Israeli Opera. In 2016, he will be conducting Barry’s Importance of being earnest at the Lincoln Centre in New York. His many critically acclaimed recordings for the Hyperion label include two albums of Stravinsky’s ballet scores, comprising Jeu de cartes, Agon, Orpheus, Le baiser de la fée and Scènes de ballet; a Gramophone Award-winning disc of Britten’s complete works for piano and orchestra with Steven Osborne, and a critically acclaimed survey of Liszt’s three Funeral Odes with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra released in the composer’s anniversary year. Volkov’s NMC disc of works by Jonathan Harvey, Body Mandala, received a Gramophone Award in 2008; his recording for the Aeon label of Harvey’s Speakings, meanwhile, won the prestigious Monaco Prize and the Prix Caecilia de l’Union de la Presse Musicale Belge in 2011.
Ilan Volkov is one of the guiding forces behind Levontin 7. The performance venue, among the most adventurous in Tel Aviv, brings together diverse musical genres, including classical, jazz, electronic and rock. The enterprise reflects Volkov’s determination to keep alive the creative spirit and sense of artistic adventure that shaped so many works composed during the opening decades of the last century.