Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and frequent guest conductor of leading orchestras throughout North America, Europe, and the Far East, Yoel Levi has transformed the Atlanta Symphony into a world-class orchestra noted for the clarity, virtuosity and sonic beauty of its playing. Hailing this metamorphosis under his baton, Gramophone magazine said, "Yoel Levi has built a reputation for himself and his orchestra that is increasingly the envy of his Big Five American counterparts in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston, and Chicago." With the orchestra and its award-winning chorus, he gave a highly successful performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection") in New York's Avery Fisher Hall, and was featured in July of 1996 at the Opening Ceremonies of the Centennial Olympic Games. In 1991 he led the orchestra in an extensive and critically-celebrated European tour. In addition, the ASO was nominated as "Best Orchestra of the Year" (1991-1992) by the first annual International Classical Music Awards.
Mr. Levi's conducting engagements have included appearances with orchestras in London, Paris, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Rome, Frankfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Israel and Japan. In North America he has conducted the New York Philharmonic and the orchestras of Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Washington, Minnesota, Toronto, and Montreal, among others. In 1991 he was invited to conduct the Stockholm Philharmonic in performance at the Nobel Prize ceremony. He has also led acclaimed performances of Mahler's Ninth Symphony with the New York Philharmonic, Orff's Carmina burana and Mahler's Eighth Symphony with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival, Britten's War Requiem with the Detroit Symphony, and Mendelssohn's Elijah with the San Francisco Symphony. In the fall of 1996 he was appointed as the first Music Advisor to the Israel Festival in its 36-year history, for both the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He made his opera conducting debut this past November at the Teatro Comunale in Florence, conducting eight performances in nine days of La fanciulla del West.
Mr. Levi has made 35 recordings on different labels and with different orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Twenty-five of these are with the Atlanta Symphony for Telarc International, devoted to music by Barber, Brahms, Copland, Dvorak, Hindemith, Kodaly, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Ravel, Rossini, Saint-Saens, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. His performance of Barber's works was rated "Barber at his best" by disCDigest. Praising the excitement of his performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote, "Levi revels in the score's earthy qualities, pushing rhythms and dynamics to their limits." Gramophone magazine hailed the "raw, fiery excitement" of his interpretation of tone poems by Sibelius, while Diapason magazine wrote, "Yoel Levi has taken his place amongst the most eminent conductors of Sibelius." Of the Rossini overtures, London's CD Review raved, "Now one of America's greatest orchestras, it [the ASO] embodies prodigious virtuosity, glowing warmth and stunningly precise ensemble." His most recent releases are a highly regarded performance of Mahler's Fifth Symphony and Mahler's Sixth Symphony, as well as disks devoted to Hoist (The Planets), Beethoven (Overtures), and Barber (Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto, Souvenirs). Future releases include Mahler's Symphony No. 4 with Frederica von Stade, and Dvorak's complete Slavonic Dances.
In May of 1997, Mr. Levi was awarded the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, and also gave the commencement address. He has also been appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Georgia School of Music, where he will help develop the school's conducting program, coach chamber ensembles, teach master classes in conducting, present lectures, and work with the major performing ensembles.
Though born in Romania, Mr. Levi grew up in Israel. He studied at the Tel Aviv Academy of Music, where he received a Master of Arts degree with distinction, and at the Jerusalem Academy of Music under Mendi Rodan. He also studied with Franco Ferrara in Sienna and Rome, with Kiril Kondrashin in Holland, and at the Guildhall School of Music in London. He received First Prize in the 1978 Conductors' International Competition in Besancon, France, and became an assistant to Lorin Maazel at the Cleveland Orchestra for six years, serving as Resident Conductor from 1980 to 1984. He had already established his globe-spanning career as a guest conductor when he became Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony in 1988. He and his family reside in Atlanta, where they are active in the city's cultural life.
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