Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra appoints its youngest ever chief conductor

A winner of the 2013 International Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition has been handed the golden ticket to propel his career onto the international stage.

When Israeli-conductor Lahav Shani takes up his position as chief conductor at the famous Netherlands’ orchestra in September 2018, he will be just 29 years-old.

Shani made his debut in Rotterdam in June 2016 as a conductor and piano soloist, following which members of the orchestra unanimously selected him as the successor to Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

After studying in Berlin, the young star’s progression has been rapid: he has since conducted, among others, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Vienna Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestra. Shani will also lead as principal guest conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra for the 2017-18 season.

RPO has a strong tradition of searching out and developing exceptional young talent: Nézet-Séguin was just 33 when he began his tenure in the role and Valery Gergiev became principal guest conductor at the age of 36.

Said RPO CEO George Wiegel: ‘It is a fine tradition in the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra that we are able to find and retain exceptional talent. I am proud that we are continuing in this vein with the appointment of this unique talent, so young and with so much musical potential. It is fantastic that our orchestra is so unanimously enthusiastic about Lahav as their conductor and so in tune with his way of making music: adventurous, with great devotion and intensely expressive.’

Shani’s inaugural performance in Rotterdam as designated chief conductor will be the 2018 New Year’s Concert, which opens RPO’s centenary year. Granted with a five-year tenure, he will spend around 12 weeks annually with the ensemble.