Kirov, Illinois Philharmonic wrap season with sumptuous Strauss


SUNDAY, May 19, 2019

By Lawrence A. Johnson | Chicago Classical Review

"In both the Rosenkavalier Suite and the performance of Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks that closed the evening, one was impressed anew at Kirov’s conducting. No matter what the repertoire, Kirov always seems to find the perfect tempo giusto. While he draws playing of great vitality and dynamism, his supple, flexible direction never indulges in extremes or theatricality for its own sake and is always put wholly at the service of the score at hand."

Kirov wins 2019 Solti Foundation’s Career Assistance Award

April, 2019

Stilian Kirov, maestro for the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, [Symphony in C and the Bakersfield Symphony] has been awarded a 2019 Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation U.S. It is the fourth time Kirov has received the support of the foundation. The foundation’s Career Assistance Award is designed to support and encourage young American conductors at the beginning of their careers. The foundation honors the memory of Sir Georg Solti who was music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 22 years.

Kirov, Illinois Philharmonic hit their stride with resplendent Rachmaninoff

MARCH 17, 2019

By Lawrence A. Johnson | Chicago Classical Review

"..For all its popularity and tuneful qualities, Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony is not a work that plays itself. The epic structure and long, arching melodies require a firm hand and clear yet idiomatic direction if this sprawling score is not going to coalesce into a lumbering morass.


"Kirov showed himself a Rachmaninoff conductor of the first rank in this performance. From the brooding opening bars to the final joyous coda, the hour-long symphony unfolded as if in one breath, seamlessly and logically, with ideal tempos throughout.

There was an inexorable flow to the long first movement, with Kirov patiently building the long melodic phrases and skillfully judging the ebb and flow, the central climax craggy and powerful."

"The scherzo went with fizzing dynamism and energy, the big central melody given with sumptuous tone and heart-easing warmth. The direction of the Adagio was masterful, the long paragraphs progressing with a sense of inevitable flow. "


"Kirov kept a taut grip in the finale, which was aptly exciting and jubilant but never allowed to become loud and raucous, the conductor ensuring that the reprises of the big tunes received their due as much as the leaping main theme. "

Rave review from Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra Opening Night

OCTOBER 21, 2018

By John Von Rhein | Chicago Classical Review

"...I admired the jaunty exuberance Kirov’s players brought to the jazzy syncopations of An American in Paris. The direction they received from the podium was articulate and purposeful; best of all, the IPO chief refused to cheapen this tuneful slice of vintage Americana with any errant showmanship. The man is all music – all business – and the organization he heads is the clear beneficiary."

Stilian Kirov Leads Rutgers Orchestra in Revealing Beethoven Ninth


MARCH 21, 2018

By Bernard Jacobson | Seen and Heard International

"...Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony presents an extreme example of music that admits of a wide range of interpretative options, and already in its first movement Stilian Kirov, the 34-year-old music director of Symphony in C, was fashioning an account that provided a view of the work quite different from any I have experienced in many dozens of previous encounters with it.


Usually this grimly dramatic and involuted music makes its impact preeminently in terms of motivic concentration and the building up of dynamic force. By his handling of line, texture, and instrumental balance, however, Kirov revealed quite how profoundly the movement depends on the gradual efflorescence and expansion of eloquent quasi-lyrical melody. It was not that dynamic climaxes were in any way shortchanged. Indeed, in the playing of this professional training orchestra based on Rutgers University’s Camden campus, the sheer tigerish enthusiasm and technical aplomb of the musicians, reinforced at every appropriate moment by the incisive contributions of Japanese-born timpanist Sae Hashimoto, ensured an effect of more than ordinary grandeur and nobility.


Though perhaps less original in conception, the scherzo that followed was brilliantly rendered, with a trio section of unusual fleetness and clarity..."

Illinois Philharmonic's new maestro seeks to 'change people's lives' through music



By John von Rhein | Chicago Tribune

"Stilian Kirov is a refreshing anomaly in an age of young conductors who regard each podium appointment as just another conquest to pad out their resumes.

The 33-year-old, Bulgarian-born conductor, who will lead his first concert as music director to kick off the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra’s 40th anniversary season next month, is a serious and dedicated musician. He doesn’t think in careerist terms. In that respect he is a throwback to what resident music directors used to be, 40 or 50 years ago. "

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