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The Richmond Symphony Announces Six Music Director Candidates to Be Part of its 2019-20 Season

September 25, 2018


The Richmond Symphony Announces Six Music Director Candidates to Be Part of its 2019-20 Season

September 25, 2018 – Richmond, VA: The Richmond Symphony is pleased to announce six outstanding candidates to follow Steven Smith as its next Music Director, who will conduct his final performance at the end of the 2018-19 season. The Search Committee received over 200 applications from an international pool of candidates. After months of conversations and interviews, a group of six diverse and exciting candidates stood out from the rest.

In order of scheduled appearance, the candidates are as follows (full bios below):

  1. Roderick Cox
  2. Paolo Bortolameolli
  3. Ankush Kumar Bahl
  4. Laura Jackson
  5. Valentina Peleggi
  6. Farkhad Khudyev

Each candidate will be in Richmond over a two week period during the 2019-20 season where they will be asked to conduct multiple concerts, including one Masterworks program. During their time in Richmond, they will also participate in public events, speak to city leaders, and be involved in the Symphony’s community engagement and education activities as appropriate. The Symphony aims to announce its next Music Director before the end of 2019-20 season.

Music Director Candidate Bios

Roderick Cox

Winner of the 2018 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award by the U.S Solti Foundation, Roderick Cox was named the Minnesota Orchestra’s Associate Conductor in September 2016 for a two-year period following a year in which he served as the ensemble’s Assistant Conductor. Before arriving in Minnesota, he served for two years as Assistant Conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Roderick was awarded the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival in 2013 which led to national recognition and a return to the Festival as a Fellow. He has also held Fellowships with the Chicago Sinfonietta as part of their Project Inclusion programme and the Chautauqua Music Festival, where he was a David Effron Conducting Fellow.

Highlights among recent engagements as a guest conductor included a subscription concert debut with the Minnesota Orchestra and debut concerts with the Cleveland Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and Santa Fe Symphony orchestras as well as at the Lanaudiere Festival with the Orchestre Metropolitan de Montreal and at Grant Park Festival in Chicago. Roderick also conducted a performance sponsored by Google and the Colour of Music Festival for the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C.

In 18/19, Roderick will make his debut performance in a subscription concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with Cameron Carpenter, at the Manhattan School of Music conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and his Opera debut with Houston Grand Opera in January 2019 in performances of Bizet’s Pêcheurs de Perles.


Paolo Bortolameolli

Praised by composer George Crumb for his “sensitive and insightful interpretation”, conductor Paolo Bortolameolli has been gaining international attention as one of the most interesting and versatile young conductors from South America of his generation. Along with his musical personality, Bortolameolli brings a collaborative approach to music and a passion for connecting the 21st-century audience to the concert stage. Bortolameolli enjoys conducting, working with youth orchestras, collaborating with today’s composers, lecturing and writing.

LA Phil Assistant Conductor.

Dudamel Fellow in 2017 (LA Phil).

YOA Orchestra of the Americas Guest Conductor in Residence (2017).

2016 Best Concert Award (Schoenberg Chamber Symphonies) – Arts critics from Chile.

2016 Best Opera Conductor Award – Arts critics from Chile.

Semifinalist in the Mahler Competition 2016.

Paolo has worked with conductor such as Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Marin Alsop, Thomas Adès, Peter Oundjian, Matthias Pintscher , William Christie and Helmut Rilling.

He was also Principal Conductor of the New Haven Chamber Orchestra during the 2012-2013 season. In 2013 has a major professional debut along with Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago (Chile), celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of the premiere of the Rite of Spring in a performance acclaimed by the public and the critic (Special Award from the Chilean Critics Association). During the following 10 months he debuted in front of every major orchestra of his country including: Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile, Orquesta de la Universidad de Concepción, Orquesta USACH, Orquesta de Cámara de Chile, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional Juvenilworking also along  with internationally renowned soloists such as Ray Chen, Lucas Macías Navarro, Pacho Flores, Yuzuko Horigome, Kun-Woo Paik, among others.

In 2016 had his Opera debut (Tancredi, Rossini) at Teatro Municipal de Santiago opera season. Future engagements this year include Orquesta Clásica Santa Cecilia (España), Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Orquesta Filarmónica de Buenos Aires, Orquesta Nacional de Música Argentina, Orquesta Sinfónica del SODRE (Uruguay), Orquesta Sinfónica de UNCuyo, Orquesta Filarmónica de la Radio Mexicana, Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería (México), Orquesta Joven de Colombia and his debut at the Hollywood Bowl along with Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil).

Also in Chile, where he was named 100 young leaders of the country (Sábado Magazine, 2007), Mr. Bortolameolli was the Principal Conductor of the Youth Orchestra Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Colina (2009 – 2011).

Enthusiastic about new music, he frequently collaborates with young composers. Some highlights are his collaboration with The Industry Opera Company in LA, the world premiere of Matthew Barnson’s The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying at Zankel Hall in Carnegie Hall (2013), working with the Experiment in Opera Company, and his participation on the American Composers Alliance’s Opera Scenes Evening at Symphony Space, New York.

In 2013 he was at the head of RITE/NOW Project, a concert held in November of the same year at Woolsey Hall (New Haven), which with visual components and the premiere of a symphonic work he commissioned especially for this occasion, celebrated the centennial anniversary of Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’.

Among his teaching activities are his master classes for conducting students and youth orchestra conductors as part of the training program of the Foundation of Youth Orchestras of Chile (FOJI).

Mr. Bortolameolli has been guest lecturer at Teatro Municipal de Santiago Opera Season, Teatro CorpArtes, Science Festival Puerto de Ideas, Universidad de Concepción and Gian Paolo Martelli Academy. In 2018 was invited to give a TED Talk en Español in New York.

He is also the creator of ‘PONLE PAUSA’, supported by Fundación CorpArtes and Fundación Ibañez – Atkinson, a project that seeks to revolutionize the concept of music education through the implementation of short videos and concerts targeting social network users.

Mr. Bortolameolli has studied with leading conductors including Bernard Haitink, Neeme Järvi, Pavo Järvi, Leonid Grin and Peter Oundjian.  Twice (2013 – 2014) participant in the Lucerne Festival, in the Järvi Summer Festival and Academy (Estonia), the Jorma Panula Masterclass  at El Escorial in Madrid and the Mozarteum Sommerakademie where he worked with professor Peter Gülke.

In 2013 he was personally invited by Maestro Bernard Haitink to attend his Master Class at the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center.

An accomplished pianist, Paolo won in 2003 the first prize of the National Chopin Competition (Chile) and in 2005 the National competition for Young Soloists playing Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto Nº1 along with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile.

Paolo has been awarded by the Corporación Amigos del Teatro Municipal  Scholarship, Fundación Ibañez-Atkinson Scholarship Fernando Rosas Grant (FOJI).

Mr. Bortolameolli is Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Yale School of Music (Maestro Shinik Hahm – 2013) and Graduate Performance Diploma from Peabody Institute (2015) where he studied under the guidance of Gustav Meier and Markand Thakar. He graduated from the Arts Faculty of University of Chile (Maestro David del Pino Klinge 2011) and from Universidad Católica de Chile where he studied piano with Professor Frida Conn.


Ankush Kumar Bahl

Hailed by the New York Times as an “energetic” conductor who leads with “clear authority and enthusiasm,” Ankush Kumar Bahl is recognized today as a conductor with impressive technique, thoughtful interpretations, and an engaging podium presence. Recent and upcoming appearances, including re-engagements, are with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, Richmond Symphony, Thunder Bay Symphony, London Symphonia, Orchestre National de France, the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico, and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C.   Prestigious summer festival engagements have been with the Copenhagen Philharmonic at Tivoli, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, and the Chautauqua Institute. The past few seasons, Bahl has been a frequent cover conductor for the New York Philharmonic and Maestro Jaap van Zweden, having assisted him and other venerable guest conductors both at Lincoln Center and on tour.

Bahl is a proud recipient of four separate Sir Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards between the years of 2011 to 2016 as well as the 2009 Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholarship. A protege of former New York Philharmonic Music Director, Kurt Masur, he served as Masur’s assistant conductor at the Orchestre National de France, the Royal Concertgebouw, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. It was in this capacity that Bahl was called upon to step in for Maestro Masur for two performances of Brahms and Beethoven with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

From 2011-15 Bahl was the Assistant Conductor at the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., under Christoph Eschenbach. During his four year tenure, Bahl conducted over 100 performances including his subscription debut in 2012, his Wolf Trap debut in 2013, the debut concert of the Rubenstein Family Organ, numerous run out concerts for the NSO’s In Your neighborhood program, and his annual Young People’s Concerts which educated over 24,000 students each year. In addition, Bahl was the primary conductor for their Beyond the Scoreseries. In February 2013, Bahl’s ability to step in on short notice was once again called upon when he successfully replaced Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos on a few hours’ notice in a subscription concert with the NSO that featured soloist Daniil Trifonov and concluded with Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

American born and of Indian descent, Ankush Kumar Bahl is native of the San Francisco Bay Area and received a double degree in music and in rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been a conducting fellow at the Aspen Music Festival with David Zinman and completed his master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting at the Manhattan School of Music with Zdenek Macal and George Manahan. In recent years, Bahl has been a frequent collaborator with jazz legend Wayne Shorter, leading his quartet in concerts of his orchestral music at both the Kennedy Center and the Detroit Free Jazz Festival.


Laura Jackson

Laura Jackson — now in her tenth season as music director of the Reno Philharmonic — continues to win praise for her artistry, leadership, innovative programming, and creative community engagement.

Her passion and drive have helped the Reno Philharmonic reach new heights with cutting edge composer-in-residence projects as well as vibrant performances of traditional repertoire. New works that Jackson has commissioned in partnership with the Reno Phil have enjoyed multiple performances nationwide.

In addition to concerts with the Reno Philharmonic, Ms. Jackson guest conducts nationally and internationally. Recent performances include concerts with the symphonies of Hartford, Eugene, Charlottesville, Hawaii, Flint, the Philly POPS and L’Orchestre symphonique de Bretagne in France. In 2017, Jackson returned to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra where she previously served as their first-ever female assistant conductor from 2004-7.

Jackson recorded Michael Daugherty’s Time Cycle on Naxos with the Bournemouth Symphony in partnership with Marin Alsop and she has performed with the Philippine Philharmonic. In North America, she has performed with the symphonies of Alabama, Baltimore, Berkeley, Boca Raton, Detroit, Phoenix, San Antonio, Toledo, Toronto, Windsor, and Winnipeg, among others.

Prior to her appointment in Atlanta, she studied conducting at the University of Michigan and spent summers at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center in 2002 and 2003. As the Seiji Ozawa Conducting Fellow at Tanglewood, she conducted numerous concerts featuring both traditional and contemporary repertoire.

Ms. Jackson spent her early childhood in Virginia and Pennsylvania before moving at age 11 to Plattsburgh, NY, where she grew up waterskiing, swimming, and sailing on Lake Champlain. She fell in love with the violin in public school, later attending the North Carolina School for the Arts to finish high school. She pursued an undergraduate degree at Indiana University where she studied both violin and conducting before moving to Boston in 1990 to freelance as a violinist and teach at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.


Valentina Peleggi

Italian conductor Valentina Peleggi is Resident Conductor of the OSESP São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, where she assists and conducts several subscription concerts of her own each season; and Principal Conductor of their professional chorus, taking care of the choir’s artistic programming, leading a cappella concerts, and preparing the choir in symphonic repertoire. She finishes both positions at the end of December 2018, returning to the orchestra as a guest conductor in 2019. She will also record a Villa Lobos a capella CD for Naxos. She won the APCA Prize in 2016 as Conductor of the Year from the Paulistan Society of Critics of Arts and was voted “Young Talent of 2017” by readers of Brazil’s specialist music magazine Revista Concerto.

From September 2018 Peleggi is the Mackerras Fellow at English National Opera for two seasons, assisting on a wide range of repertoire and conducting performances across both seasons. In 2019 she conducts several performances of La Boheme and her own studio production of a re-worked Dido and Aeneas; in 2020 she will conduct her own main-house production of core repertoire. In 2018 she also took up a new three-year post as Guest Music Director at the Theatro Sao Pedro in Sao Paulo, specializing in Italian opera and conducting one production each season, starting with Cimarosa’s O Matrimonio Segreto in May 2018.

Concert debuts in 18/19 include the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Gothenburg Opera orchestra and BBC Singers; she also returns to the Baltimore Symphony and the Sao Paulo Symphony to conduct with Marin Alsop the world premiere of a groundbreaking new work by Roxana Panufnik for one orchestra and two conductors. Recent guest appearances have included the Norrkoping Symphony, Orchestra della Toscana, Orchestra del Teatro Verdi di Trieste, Omaha Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Valdivia (Chile) and Orquestra Filharmonica de Goias (Brazil); she has also worked with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Tonhalle Orchester Zurich. She has collaborated with soloists such as Baiba Skride, Jan Liesecki, Alexander Melnikov, Louis Schwizgebel, Boris Belkin and Yuri Bashmet. In June 2017 she was a participant in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s prestigious masterclasses under Daniele Gatti, streamed live to over 10,000 viewers.

The first Italian woman to enter the conducting programme at the Royal Academy of Music of London, she graduated with distinction and was awarded the DipRAM for an outstanding final concert, as well as numerous prizes along the way. She assisted Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Semyon Bychkov, Christian Thielemann and furthered her studies with David Zinman at the Zurich Tonhalle. She holds a Master in Conducting from the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia in Rome with honours, and in 2013 was awarded the Accademia Chigiana’s highest award. She went on to assist Bruno Campanella and Gianluigi Gelmetti at Teatro Regio di Torino, Opera Bastille Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Teatro Regio di Parma and Teatro San Carlo. Together with the Orchestra Nazionale della RAI she assisted at a live worldwide broadcast production of Rossini’s Cenerentola, and a DVD recording for RAI – RADA Film. Ms Peleggi nurtures strong connections with her fellow musicians; from 2005 to 2015 she was the Principal Conductor and Music Director of the University Choir in Florence, and remains their Honorary Conductor, receiving in 2011 a special award from the Government in recognition of her work there. She won the 2014 Conducting Prize at the Festival International de Inverno Campos do Jordão, received a Bruno Walter Foundation Scholarship at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California, and the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship 2015-2017 under Marin Alsop.

Valentina Peleggi is represented by Intermusica worldwide.


Farkhad Khudyev

Farkhad Khudyev was born in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he first studied violin, piano and composition at the State Music School for gifted musicians. At the age of 10, he distinguished himself as the youngest performer selected to play with the National Violin Ensemble of Turkmenistan, and toured around Central Asia and Eastern Europe. As a soloist and a member of the Ensemble, Farkhad performed for the Presidents of France, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. At the age of 12, he was chosen to represent the country at the International New Names Festival, sponsored by the Moscow Conservatory, and was named as one of the most promising young musicians at the festival.

In 2001, Farkhad came to the United States to study at Interlochen Arts Academy and then completed his Bachelor of Music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory. He received his Master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Yale University.

Mr. Khudyev is the winner of the 3rd prize at the 8th International Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition in Germany, the Solti Foundation US 2018 Career Assistance Award, the Best Interpretation Prize at the 1st International Taipei Conducting Competition in Taiwan, the Gold Medal and Grand Prize at the 2007 National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and the First Prize at the Yale Chamber Music Society Competition in the US. Mr. Khudyev has performed around the United States, Europe and Asia at world-class venues and festivals including the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy, DR Koncerthuset in Denmark, the Alte Oper Frankfurt Großer Saal and the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festpiele in Germany.

Farkhad’s performances are described as “true, powerful, ecstatic and utterly riveting” (Herald), “graceful, very sensitive…” (Frankfurt Neue Presse), and “a triumph in every sense of the word” (New York Music Daily). Admired for “meticulous guidance, superb musicianship and extraordinarily imaginative interpretation” (Performing Arts Monterey Bay), Mr. Khudyev has worked with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Frankfurt Opera Orchestra of Germany, Danish National Symphony Orchestra of Denmark, San Diego Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Champaign-Urbana Symphony, Yale Philharmonia, Yale Symphony Orchestra,  Greenwich Village Orchestra of New York City, New Jersey Youth Symphony, Manhattan School of Music Orchestra, National Orchestra of Turkmenistan, George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra of Romania, Xi’an Symphony Orchestra of China and the State Taipei Chinese Orchestra of Taiwan. Farkhad has served as the Assistant Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Music Director of New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra and the New Haven Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Associate Conductor of the Hidden Valley Opera. Currently, Mr. Khudyev serves as the Music Director of the Hidden Valley Orchestra Institute and Youth Music Monterey County in California.

During the 2018-19 Season, Mr. Khudyev will make his debut with the Seattle Symphony and work with the Dallas Symphony, as well as return to conduct China’s Xi’an Symphony Orchestra.

Farkhad resides in Monterey, California, where he enjoys spending time with his Family and Nature.


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About the Richmond Symphony

Kicking off its 61st Season in September 2018, the Richmond Symphony is the largest performing arts organization in Central Virginia. The organization includes an orchestra of more than 70 professional musicians, the 150-voice Richmond Symphony Chorus and 300 students in the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra programs. Each season, more than 200,000 members of the community enjoy live concerts and radio broadcasts. The Symphony also provides educational outreach programs to over 55,000 students and teachers each year. In 2017, the Symphony was named one of 21 American orchestras selected as a leader in orchestra innovation by the League of American Orchestras through its Futures Fund Initiative. The Richmond Symphony is partially funded by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Visit www.richmondsymphony.com for more information.



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