After an intensive two year search, the IPO Board of Directors has named Maestro Stilian Kirov the new Music Director of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.
Maestro Kirov's contract was approved by the Board and signed by Board President Timothy Coburn at a special board meeting on Tuesday, May 9. He will officially begin his duties with IPO as of June 1, 2017, but has already been working to add the opening selection on each concert program for IPO's 40th Anniversary Season.
The Bulgarian-born Juilliard graduate holds a master’s degree in conducting from the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris and currently serves as Music Director for Symphony in C (New Jersey) and Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra (California). In addition, Kirov is a recipient of the 2016 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award and is a 2015 Malko Competition prize winner. His previous symphonic appointments include Seattle Symphony (Associate Conductor), Memphis Symphony (Associate Conductor), Memphis Youth Symphony Program (Music Director) and Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Assistant Conductor under Bernard Haitink), among others.
“I am very excited to be joining the Illinois Philharmonic family,” Kirov shared. “During my visit in January, I was very impressed with the community support for the orchestra and the warm welcome I was given. The musicians are quite extraordinary, and, most importantly, they care enormously about the future of the IPO. All these aspects are a great base to begin our journey, and I feel that we have no limits on how much we can achieve together.”
IPO Artistic Consultant Henry Fogel, who guided IPO through the search process, agreed with Kirov saying, “The lay people on the Committee quite properly gave a great deal of weight to the views of the musicians, and conversely the musicians showed a very deep interest in the off-the-podium part of the job of a modern music director.”
Fogel said that in his work facilitating music director searches for 25 orchestras over the past 10 years, IPO’s Search Committee went over and above in their commitment to finding the right conductor.
They “…did an extraordinary amount of work delving into resumes, watching videos, thoroughly sorting through over 175 applications…It was so healthy to see that musicians, staff, and Board members were consistently on the same page,” Fogel added.
IPO Board President Timothy Coburn, who co-chaired the Search Committee with IPO Artistic Committee Chairman Dr. Charles Amenta, agreed that the collaborative nature of the search process involving the board, musicians, patrons, and staff provided a solid foundation on which to base a decision.
“It was difficult to narrow it down from 175 applicants, but in the end, we feel that Stilian will provide the leadership we need for the future, both on the podium and in the community,” Coburn affirmed.
IPO Executive Director Christina Salerno echoed that assessment, saying, “IPO has found in Maestro Kirov a perfect blend of high artistic standards, dynamic podium skills, and a wide-ranging repertoire – combined with a friendly, approachable demeanor that exudes an infectious passion for classical music. We are absolutely thrilled to have Kirov lead IPO into our 40th Anniversary and beyond.”
For more information on the upcoming season at Ozinga Chapel at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, visit