Stilian Kirov Leads Rutgers Orchestra in Revealing Beethoven Ninth


MARCH 21, 2018

"...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..."

Kirov, Illinois Philharmonic close season with dynamic Tchaikovsky


​ ​ SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 2018

"Kirov took a spacious approach to the opening movement’s introduction, which created a darkly brooding point of departure for the narrative trajectory toward light and eventual  triumph. The Allegro con anima had an almost dancelike quality, and the IPO brass delivered impressive force where called for.".....


"Kirov led the ensuing episodes with an organic ebb and flow, the 33-year-old conductor evincing a deep affinity for this repertoire..."


"In the finale Kirov again took an expansive view of the stately introduction, which made for a compelling contrast with the orchestral pyrotechnics that followed. The conductor expertly calibrated the balance of Tchaikovsky’s dense contrapuntal textures...."

Musicians claim their own in oft-heard Music

David Patrick Sterns CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC| Philadelphia Inquirer

Septemper 21, 2016

"...The Brahms Symphony No. 2, which ended Saturday's program, had a strong conceptual framework that cleared a path for the young musicians to play with a kind of purpose and freedom that reanimate the piece for listeners who have, of late, heard too much Brahms.


For some conductors, this is an airy, pastoral symphony. This reading, for all of the singing qualities, was the opposite, with a particularly strong pulse, vigorous tempos, and sharply contoured gestures - though details weren't lacking. Every time a musical idea ran its course in the first movement, Kirov gave the final notes a subtle melancholy. At the opposite end of the interpretive spectrum, the brass entrances of the final movement had more than the usual sense of triumph, but, thanks to a strong sense of continuity, it wasn't simply an effect but an illustration of the composer's dazzling musical invention. In-between movements strongly underscored the composer's formal control of the various musical components..."

Samuel Barber's pure heart and beyond at the Perelman Theater

By Peter Dobrin, Music Critic

March 13, 2016




"All three works were beautifully crafted. Sincerity was never in doubt, and neither was substance..."

"....At another point in the scale was Melinda Wagner's Extremity of Sky, a piano concerto whose realization could not have been in better hands than those of the stupendously athletic pianist Henry Kramer, exacting conductor Stilian Kirov, and this expert professional training orchestra. Wagner's 2006 work is busy, dense, and dissonant - and wonderfully legible to anyone sensitive to the ebb and flow of traditional music: repeated figures, fixations on certain pitches, and an inventive development of ideas. Emotionally, its four movements shadowed a symphony, with a second movement whose spare, nocturnal sounds made time stand still."

Malko favourite makes magic with the DNSO

Marie Sveistrup

April 25, 2015

The 2015 Malko Competition is in full swing at DR Koncerthuset and on Wednesday it moved a step

closer to selecting the world-class conductor of the future.  


On Tuesday the field was reduced from two dozen conductors to twelve young hopefuls, and one of the lucky few who is still in with a chance in the grueling contest is thirty-one-year-old Stilian Kirov

from Bulgaria. During both his appearances on the platform he has delivered a tour de force with the baton, something that a symphony orchestra like that at Koncerthuset really appreciates.


Something very special


Teresa Krahnert is the leader of the second violins in the DNSO, the orchestra the young conductors are working with at the Malko Competition, and she is full of praise for Stilian Kirov's conducting talents.

- Stilian is something very special, because he is sound from top to toe. He can move the sound around, and he conduct and controls the sound without forcing it down on top of us. He works with what we give him in a way that means the performance is not about him, but about the sound. And you can tell he relishes it! Teresa Krahnert says

Kirov himself is rather more humble about his achievements:

- My aim isn't to show the orchestra that I relish the sound! My aim is for us to generate emotion and excitement together, he says.

All-Beethoven night by Symphony in C/ Shallow 'Emperor,' heroic 'Eroica'

By David Patrick Stearns, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC

March 23, 2016

"....Still in his first year as music director, Stilian Kirov revealed a number of musical priorities in his well-conceived, well-played reading of the Eroica symphony. The first movement was swift and lithe, suggesting certain allegiances to the historically informed performance camp. Fugal writing in the second and fourth movements had received extra rehearsal attention, judging from the way the performance lifted up yet another notch.


More prevalent was Kirov's sense of biography. In his pre-performance remarks, he suggested that underneath the piece's obvious heroism is a composer coming to terms with the tragedy of his encroaching deafness. Not all music responds to this treatment - Stravinsky was proud that his personal trials never showed in his pieces - but the music responded in this one, with a particularly strong emotional undercurrent. The second-movement funeral march had all the gravitas you could want. Even accompanying figures carried an extra charge."

H.P.O. a “Top Ten” contender evening

Review by Danny Gaisin

November 30, 2014


"After two consecutive years of inclusion in the O.A.R.’s Top Ten listings (2011 –Sommerville, & 2012 under guest Matthew Kraemer of BPO); a two-year absence. Last evening’s concert under podium-candidate Stilian Kirov and guest soloistBlake Pouliot is a sure-fire contender for inclusion in our upcoming list! The concert was a technical, emotional, and performance gem. Only superlatives will do to describe any of these production aspects. Each of the three selected works demonstrated a specific facet of an orchestral concert. "

" ...Conductor, soloist and HPO musicians were so totally on the same score-page; staff & measure designation. It was as if they were an umbilically-joined single unit. The finale allegro had this listener wishing that the composer had doubly extended his creation. This was certainly of CD stamping grade!"

Dazzling Mussorgsky's 'Pictures' From Kirov and The Lake Forest Symphony

By: Dorothy Andries | Classical Music Critic | For Sun-Times Media

April 16, 2014


...After intermission Kirov conducted a tone poem titled “The Enchanted Lake” by Russian composer Anatoly Liadov, not a household name even to classical music fans. But perhaps he should be, as the work was a virtual watercolor of harmonies. We should thank Kirov for programming one of his works.


The centerpiece of the concert was Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at An Exhibition” in the brilliant and very French orchestration by Maurice Ravel. The piece is a showcase for any orchestra and Kirov drew out the Lake Forest Symphony’s contrasting voices with focus and dexterity.Of particular charm were the “Tuileries,” which depicted the Parisian gardens where children play and squirrels scamper, and the “Ballet of the Little Chicks in their Shells,” which provided a few swirling, cheerful moments of music.The orchestra intoned “The Great Gate of Kiev” majestically, wrapping up a dazzling performance and splendid concert...




Seattle Symphony's delivers 'Carmina' in all its splendor

By Melinda Bargreen | The Seattle Times

April 4, 2014

...Associate conductor Kirov was tapped on short notice to replace an ailing Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos for this program. Kirov conducted with great vitality and energy as well as a fine sense of both balance and timing, and got exciting performances from all hands — chorus, soloists, orchestra...

Seattle Symphony's Magical 'Carmina Burana'

By Phillipa Kiraly | City Arts

April 4, 2014


"...But first, the Seattle Symphony played one of Haydn’s late works, his Symphony No. 100, the “Military,” so called because of the prominent use of percussion and brass, not common in 1794. This performance, with a reduced orchestra under associate conductor Stilian Kirov, could certainly be considered a call to arms, stirring, emphatic and eager, though keeping within the boundaries of that era’s elegance and refinement..."


"...Carmina can be a very noisy affair, but while there were plenty of moments when chorus and orchestra were at full blast, Kirov made sure there was contrast with softer moments and between full energy and more flowing or slower parts. His conducting was clean, clear and crisp, but brought out the sensuality and general exuberance embodied in a work full of lust, love unattainable, suggested or achieved, drunken orgies, the rise of springtime in the blood and general hedonism..." 


Rave Review from Seattle Symphony's Beyond the Score Concert

By Philippa Kiraly | The Sun Break

March 4, 2014

...After intermission, Kirov conducted the entire work in Ravel’s orchestration, giving a now enlightened audience a chance to hear the full work with all its colorful, vigorous and descriptive glory in an excellent performance...



Seattle Symphony Seasonal Fundraiser Sets Records

By Nicole Brodeur | Seattle Times

December 9, 2013

Everyone in attendance last Tuesday was counting on the Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s 19th annual Holiday Musical Salute (HMS) to get the crowd into the Christmas spirit.

And did it ever! Conductor Stilian Kirov led his musicians through “Sleigh Ride” and selections from “The Nutcracker,” with the Northwest Boychoir Apprentices joining them up front to sing — even bringing some folks to yuletide tears.

No one expected the event to set records, but it did, two of them. On hand were a record 500 people, who helped raise a much-needed $170,000 for the Seattle Symphony Player’s Pension Plan — more than twice what the event brought in last year.


Native, non-Native cultures meet in Potlatch Symphony

By Tom Keogh The Seattle Times

​September 18, 2013

Potlatch Symphony, a collaboration involving Native and non-Native musicians and written by local composer Janice Giteck, will have its world premiere at “Day of Music,” a free event at Benaroya Hall on Sept. 22, 2013. “Exchange” is only one section of a larger, new composition, Potlatch Symphony, making its world premiere in Benaroya Hall during Seattle Symphony’s “Day of Music” on Sunday.“Day of Music,” a free event at Benaroya Hall, will feature 35 acts representing classical, jazz, rock and hip-hop. The Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s contribution includes two 45-minute performances led by associate conductor Stilian Kirov.The new symphony, written by composer and Cornish professor Janice Giteck, and involving Native musicians, tribal artists and leaders, and classical players, will be part of those performances.


Lang Lang launches SSO season in fine style

By Melinda Bargreen | The Seattle Times

September 18, 2013

...The Slavic-accented, dance-centric bonbons (two of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances, Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances, three of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances, and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, plus the Toccata of Bulgarian composer Pancho Vladigerov) demonstrated the orchestra is opening the season in a state of fairly robust health. Morlot and his players demonstrated rapport and spirit in these colorful works, with associate conductor Stilian Kirov taking over for the Vladigerov. The chorale, prepared by Joseph Crnko, sounded overpowering and occasionally a bit unsteady in the Borodin.

Lang Lang, one of today’s most sought-after soloists, was the big draw of the afternoon, and he gave an account of the Prokofiev Third that pushed hard against the boundaries of what is technically possible to achieve on the piano: playing of almost unbelievable speed and prowess, overlaid with a showmanship that may be unequaled in the piano world.

It was a performance of huge contrasts: whisper-soft passages and violent attacks that singled out a note or a chord for particular emphasis. This may not have been exactly what Prokofiev had in mind, but for this listener, the level of sheer headlong virtuosity was thrilling to hear....


Rave review on Carter's Instances East Coast premier

By Lloyd Schwarz | The Berkshirereview

August 29, 2013

....And on a larger scale (eight minutes!), we got the East Coast premiere of Carter’s penultimate work, Instances, perhaps the most captivating of Carter’s last pieces, co-commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center and the Seattle Symphony... Stilian Kirov led an orchestra of 37 young soloists in an exquisite performance of this masterly piece, a concerto for orchestra, as BSO program annotator Robert Kirzinger referred to it. It begins like a comic basketball game, with the players passing around the orchestra brief pointillist episodes, little solo blurts, with single piano notes popping out over strings or flutes. Then, finally, for more than two minutes, there’s a sustained passage, marked “Tranquillo,” that seems to be a distillation of all of Carter’s time-stopping, heart-stopping slow movements. “A microcosm of a career,” Kirzinger called it. And a sublime one....



Meet Stilian Kirov, SSO’s new associate conductor

By Tom Keogh | The Seattle Times

August 23, 2013

 ....A rising star in the conducting world, Kirov has been promoted for the 2013-14 season and will lead concerts in several series, including Mainly Mozart, Beyond the Score, Discover Music and Community Concerts.

He will also continue his primary responsibility from last season: preparing to step in at any moment for Morlot or a guest conductor who has to cancel an appearance. That scenario occurred last January when Morlot called Kirov the night before a concert and asked him to fill in for two performances.


A harmony of differences at Tanglewood Festival

By Mattew Guerrieri | The Boston Globe

August 09, 2013

“Instances,” Carter’s second-to-last piece (he passed away last year, just before his 104th birthday). Co-commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center and the Seattle Symphony, who premiered it last February and conducted here by Kirov (also an assistant conductor in Seattle), it concentrated an entire landscape into eight efficiently vibrant minutes, a plethora of quick-cutting among the orchestral groups opening out into a meditative expanse.



TMC Orchestra Exudes Eclectic Excitement

By Cashman Kerr Prince | The Boston Musical Intelligencer

July 11, 2013


The second work on this program was John Harbison’s Closer to My Own Life (2011), for mezzo-soprano (Reilly Nelson, a TMC Fellow) and orchestra (here led by TMC Conducting Fellow Stilian Kirov). This work sets four prose passages from Alice Munro’s 2006 collection, The View from Castle Rock. Munro is known for the compressed beauty and power of her magisterial short stories; there is a quiet power and grace suffusing her writings, based largely on the accretion of meaning, sometimes devastating reversals, and her deft hand with language, character, and pacing. I wonder if this is the first time her words have been set to music? It is challenging to excerpt a passage, which so quickly loses its force when bereft of context, and also to match the literary tone in a musical setting. These four sections – “I. Home”; “II. Lying under the apple tree”; “III. What do you want to know for?”, and “IV. Messenger”, use words from the conclusion of short stories (adapted with the author’s permission, Harbison writes) to address four key questions for Munro (origins, desire, mortality, and memory). The similarity of themes brought to mind Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915; in that composition the prose rhythm of Agee’s text sets the musical rhythm for Barber’s notes. For Harbison, however, there is a greater sense of distance between words and notes. Here the lyricism is more melodic, with rhythmic figurations punctuating the spaces between the words. The melody embraces uncommon intervals and demands a wide vocal range. The vocal line, ably sung by Nelson, unfolds more like recitatives than arias. Nelson brought great support, tone and enunciation to this part. Her command of the music is impressive, as she handily dispatched leaps and jumps in the voice part. Kirov and the TMC Orchestra collaborated with Nelson to offer a solid reading of this work. 


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