The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has announced the appointment of Lahav Shani as its Music Director, starting from the orchestra’s 2020/21 season.
For the 2019/20 season he will have the title Music Director Designate. The 29-year-old Israeli conductor and pianist will become the second ever Music Director of the orchestra, succeeding the legendary Zubin Mehta who was appointed to the position in 1969.
Concurrently, Shani will hold the position of Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in the Netherlands, a position which he takes up in September 2018 taking over from Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He also serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, starting from the current 2017/18 season.
Shani began his connection with the IPO as a solo pianist when he was 16 years old. In October 2013, just after he won first prize at the Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg, Germany, the IPO invited him to conduct its season-opening concerts. Globes, reviewing one of the performances, wrote that “this concert will be remembered as a dizzying, perhaps even historic event in the history of the Israel Philharmonic.“ Since then, he has been appearing regularly with the IPO each year, both as a conductor and a pianist and in December 2016 he conducted the final concert of the IPO’s 80th birthday celebrations.
Shani was born in Tel Aviv in 1989 and started his piano studies aged six with Hannah Shalgi, continuing with Professor Arie Vardi at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv. He then went on to complete his studies in conducting with Professor Christian Ehwald and piano with Professor Fabio Bidini, both at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin. Whilst a student he was mentored by Daniel Barenboim.
Recent and upcoming highlights as guest conductor include engagements with many leading international orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Staatskapelle, Philhadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra, amongst others.
Lahav Shani says: “It is an enormous honour for me to be appointed as Music Director following such a huge figure as Zubin Mehta. This orchestra shaped my musical development from a very early age and my close relationship with the orchestra has been a constant thread in my artistic life. I look forward immensely to the years ahead”.
Yoel Abadi, Chairman of Management, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, says: “We are honoured to announce the appointment of Lahav Shani as the IPO’s next Music Director after he was elected by a large majority of the orchestra’s musicians. The IPO has been following, with great interest, Lahav’s meteoric development as a conductor, both in Israel and abroad, and we are looking forward to a fascinating musical partnership. The orchestra is very proud that the successor of Zubin Mehta, one of the musical giants of recent generations, will be a young Israeli with whom the IPO initially developed a relationship years ago when he was taking his first steps as a conductor. On behalf of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, I would like to congratulate Lahav Shani on his appointment and to thank from the bottom of our hearts Zubin Mehta for his many decades of contributing to the IPO and to the State of Israel. We love him deeply.”
Avi Shoshani, Executive Director, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, says: “We’re proud and excited to appoint Lahav Shani as Music Director of the IPO. After learning of the appointment, Zubin Mehta congratulated Lahav, with whom he worked a good deal in recent years. For us, this step is not only the closing of a circle but the beginning of an exciting and promising future.”