Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya is a fiercely committed advocate for Slavic masterpieces, operatic rarities and contemporary works on the leading edge of classical music. Since her appointment as Elizabeth Morse and Genius Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater in 2017, Yankovskaya has led the Chicago premieres of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, Rachmaninov’s Aleko, Joby Talbot’s Everest, Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus, as well as the world premiere of Dan Shore’s Freedom Ride. Her acclaimed performances before and amid the pandemic earned recognition from the Chicago Tribune, which named her 2020 Chicagoan of the Year.
In 2022-23, Yankovskaya makes a series of major orchestral debuts, including performances with Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Sacramento Philharmonic, Knoxville Symphony and Richmond Symphony. She returns to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for its MusicNOW series, conducting a work by CSO Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery. She also debuts at Santa Fe Opera in a new production of Dvořák’s Rusalka, at Staatsoper Hamburg with Eugene Onegin and at English National Opera, conducting a new staged production of Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. She leads the world premieres of Edward Tulane at Minnesota Opera and The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing at Chicago Opera Theater, where she also conducts the Chicago premiere of Szymanowski’s Król Roger.
Yankovskaya recently conducted Carmen at Houston Grand Opera, Don Giovanni at Seattle Opera, Pia de’ Tolomei at Spoleto Festival USA, Der Freischütz at Wolf Trap Opera, Ellen West at New York’s Prototype Festival, and Taking Up Serpents at Washington National Opera and the Glimmerglass Festival. On the concert stage, recent engagements include Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic and Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields with Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street at Carnegie Hall.
Yankovskaya is the founder and artistic director of the Refugee Orchestra Project, which promotes the cultural and societal relevance of refugees through music and has brought that message to thousands of listeners around the world. In addition to a National Sawdust residency in Brooklyn, the orchestra has performed in London, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and the United Nations.
She is an alumna of the Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors and the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship, and a proud two-time recipient of Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards. Her belief in the importance of mentorship has fueled the establishment of Chicago Opera Theater’s Vanguard Initiative, an investment in new opera that includes a two-year residency for emerging opera composers. Committed to developing the next generation of artistic leadership, Yankovskaya also volunteers with Turn the Spotlight, a mentorship program dedicated to identifying, nurturing and empowering leaders — and in turn, blazing a path to a more equitable future in the arts.
Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.