In the 2018-19 season, Lahav Shani took over from Yannick Nézet-Séguin as chief conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2020-21, he became music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, taking over from Zubin Mehta, who held the post for 50 years.
From the 2017-18 season until summer 2020, Shani was principal guest conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In June 2016, Shani debuted with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra as conductor and solo pianist. Two months later, his appointment as chief conductor was announced, and he became the youngest conductor to hold the position in the orchestra’s history. The Rotterdam Philharmonic with Shani has an exclusive recording contract with Warner Classics.
Shani’s relationship with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra began over 10 years ago. At 16, he debuted with the orchestra and in 2007, at 18, performed the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto under Zubin Mehta. He then went on to play regularly with the orchestra as a double bassist. In 2013, after winning the Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg, he was invited to step in to conduct the orchestra's season-opening concerts. Since then, he has returned to the orchestra every year as both a conductor and pianist.
Recent and upcoming guest conductor highlights include engagements with the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchester,
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, London Symphony
Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Royal
Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Philharmonia Orchestra.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1989, Shani began his piano studies at age 6 with Hannah Shalgi, before continuing with Arie Vardi at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music. He went on to study conducting under Christian Ehwald and piano with Fabio Bidini at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler, Berlin, and was mentored by Daniel Barenboim during his time there.
As a pianist, Shani has performed as a soloist with Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, Gianandrea Noseda and Valery Gergiev. He has directed piano concertos with many orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Shani also has considerable experience performing chamber music and is a regular performer at the Verbier Festival and has also appeared at the Aix-en-Provence Easter and Jerusalem Chamber Music Festivals.