Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya to deliver Bienen convocation address


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

The Bienen School of Music. Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya will be the school’s convocation speaker this year.

Jessica Ma, Assistant Campus Editor

Opera and symphonic conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya will deliver the Bienen School of Music’s convocation address in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall this June. 

As a Russian American conductor, Yankovskaya is an advocate for Slavic pieces, operatic rarities and contemporary works, according to her website. 

Yankovskaya was raised in Russia and spent her summers in Ukraine. When she was 9 years old, Yankovskaya and her family immigrated to the U.S. due to the antisemitism they experienced in Russia.

Her experiences as a refugee led Yankovskaya to found the Refugee Orchestra Project, where she currently serves as artistic director. Organized in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2016, the Refugee Orchestra Project seeks to highlight refugees’ contributions to cultural wealth and society. The project brings together performers whose families have fled to the U.S. in large-scale concerts across the country. 

Yankovskaya was appointed as Elizabeth Morse and Genius music director of the Chicago Opera Theater in 2017 — one of the few women to ever hold the title. Since then, she has overseen Chicago premieres of performances like Jake Heggie’s “Moby-Dick” and Joby Talbot’s “Everest.” In the 2022-23 season, Yankovskaya led the orchestras of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra and more. 

She also helped create the COT’s Vanguard Initiative, a two-year immersive residency to support emerging opera composers. 

The conductor received the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award in 2018 and 2021. In 2018, Yankovskaya served as the U.S. representative to the World Opera Forum in Madrid.

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Twitter: @JessicaMa2025

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