Press releases

ISO appoints Ilan Volkov


Assumes Music Director and Chief Conductor Post in 2011–2012 Season

Reykjavík, Iceland:  Iceland Symphony Orchestra announced today the appointment of Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov as Music Director and Chief Conductor. He will assume the role at the beginning of the 2011–2012 season with an initial three-year contract. The 2011-2012 season will also be the orchestra's first in the brand new Harpa concert hall, a landmark building in Reykjavík's waterfront area.

During Volkov's first season as Music Director and Chief Conductor in 2011–2012, he will conduct a minimum of six weeks during the regular concert season. He will conduct a minimum of nine weeks each season through to the end of his initial contract in 2014. In addition, the orchestra is planning international touring with Volkov during the contract period. Volkov will also curate an annual festival of contemporary music in Harpa concert hall, the first taking place in March 2012.

 “I am delighted to be taking up the post of Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Iceland Symphony at a time of an exciting shift in the history of music making in Iceland,” remarked Ilan Volkov. “The extremely interesting and vibrant music scene in Iceland creates unique artistic opportunities. Having enjoyed working with the orchestra on a number of occasions, I am very much looking forward to a close association with the players and presenting adventurous and challenging programmes. I am particularly excited about creating an annual new music festival in which we will collaborate with contemporary composers, non-classical musicians and artists.”

Sigurdur Nordal, Executive Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, said: “We believe that Ilan Volkov's clear artistic vision, broad repertoire and exceptional musicality fits perfectly with Iceland Symphony's high artistic ambitions. Ilan is among the most exciting conductors of his generation and we are thrilled that he has accepted the position of Music Director and Chief Conductor. Under his artistic leadership, the Iceland Symphony will continue to secure its place among the finest and most progressive orchestras in Northern Europe.”


The 34-year old Volkov already has an association with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra going back to January 2003, when he conducted the orchestra in a programme of contemporary music, and in 2005 when he conducted Ligeti and Haydn. “Under Volkov's firm leadership … the performance was technically superb; it was precise and disciplined, as well as powerful. The result was a dreamlike atmosphere which cannot be described in words; what a journey!” was how the Daily Morgunbladid's music critic Jonas Sen described the performance of Ligeti's San Francisco Polyphony.


Volkov returned again in January 2010, when the search for a new Music Director was already under way. Árni Ingólfsson, the orchestra's Programme Director, says that it became immediately apparent that Volkov would be an ideal fit for the orchestra. "He is a dynamic, wonderfully talented and fiercely intelligent conductor with a clear vision not only of the music but also of the context in which it should be presented. He understands that the dynamic music scene in Iceland is something quite unique and that this brings all kinds of possibilities to reach new audiences with programming that is quite different from what the major orchestras must rely on. The chemistry between Ilan and the orchestra was immediately apparent, and we are expecting wonderful things in the future."


Following his appearance in January, Volkov was immediately invited to return to the orchestra in September 2010 to lead the opening concert of the season, which was a triumphant success. Volkov will succeed Music Director Rumon Gamba, whose eight-year tenure has seen impressive growth in the calibre and prominence of the orchestra. Gamba and the Iceland Symphony have collaborated on 10 recording projects, including a series of the orchestral works of Vincent d'Indy for the Chandos label, for which the Iceland Symphony received its first ever Grammy nomination in 2008 for Best Orchestral Performance.


Ilan Volkov

Born in Israel in 1976, Ilan Volkov was appointed Young Conductor in Association to the Northern Sinfonia at the age of 19. In 1997 he became Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and two years later was invited by Seiji Ozawa to join the Boston Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Conductor. He was Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2009, subsequently becoming Principal Guest Conductor.


Ilan Volkov is a frequent guest with orchestras throughout the world, including the Israel and Munich Philharmonic orchestras, the Bamberg, City of Birmingham, Melbourne and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony orchestras, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington DC), Orchestre de Paris, SWR Freiburg, MDR Leipzig, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre National de Lyon and the Ensemble Modern. Debuts this season include performances with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and Gothenburg Symphony orchestras.


In the opera house he has conducted Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin for San Francisco Opera, Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Glyndebourne Festival (having previously appeared with Glyndebourne Touring Opera) and Britten's Peter Grimes for Washington National Opera. This season he conducts Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in Toulouse and makes his debut with Israel Opera.


Regularly recording for Hyperion, among his critically acclaimed recordings are two CDs of Stravinsky, a disc of Janacek orchestral music and a Britten CD, which won a 2009 Gramophone Award. For NMC, his recordings include a disc of works by Jonathan Harvey (including Body Mandala and other works exploring the composer's fascination with Eastern philosophies), which was the winner of a Gramophone Award in 2008.


Ilan Volkov is one of the guiding forces behind Levontin 7, a performance venue in Tel Aviv that brings together differing musical genres, including classical, jazz, electronic and rock.


About the Iceland Symphony

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra, presenting its 61st season in 2010-2011, is Iceland's national orchestra. During its concert season, the orchestra gives subscription concerts as well as a number of school and family concerts, concerts devoted to modern music, and recordings. Many of the world's most renowed musicians have appeared with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Vladimir Ashkenazy has conducted the orchestra regularly since the early 1970s and currently holds the position of Conductor Laureate. Principal Guest Conductor of the Iceland Symphony is the legendary Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky.


The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has recorded widely for international labels, including BIS, Chandos and Naxos. The Iceland Symphony's complete cycle of Sibelius symphonies under the direction of Petri Sakari was much praised by critics. The orchestra is currently recording the orchestral works of Vincent d'Indy with Rumon Gamba for the Chandos label. The first volume of the series was nominated for a Grammy award in 2008 for Best Orchestral Performance, and the second volume was an Editor's Choice selection in Gramophone magazine. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has toured widely in Europe and the United States, including two appearances in Carnegie Hall, in 1996 and again in 2000. Writing in the New York Times, critic Alex Ross described the Iceland Symphony's performance under Osmo Vänskä as “sensational… one of the finest Sibelius performances I have encountered.”


About Harpa Concert Hall

A striking addition to the Icelandic and European cultural scene, Harpa – Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre will open its doors to the public in May 2011. Harpa will combine the most important classical music and performance venue in the country with an international conference centre. It will offer a diverse range of performances, from classical to contemporary, and it will be home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and The Icelandic Opera.


Harpa's façade is designed by renowned visual artist Olafur Eliasson, the building by Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríid Architects, and the concert hall acoustical design by Artec Consultants Inc. Harpa will be a landmark in the redevelopment of Reykjavik's historic harbour and waterfront area, and a symbol of Iceland's renewed dynamism.


Harpa consists of four halls, three of which will be used for concerts: a main concert hall seating up to 1,600 people, a rehearsal hall which can also be used for concerts seating up to 450, and a chamber music hall seating 200. Harpa is run by the holding company Portus, in collaboration with the Icelandic government and the City of Reykjavik.


Media Links:

Ilan Volkov's website at International Classical Artists:

Iceland Symphony Orchestra's web site:

Harpa, Reykjavík Concert Hall and Conference Centre:


Media Contacts:

Iceland Symphony

Sigurdur Nordal

Executive Director

+354 545 2500


Ilan Volkov's Management

Monika Wiktorowicz

ICA – International Classical Artists

+44 (0)20 7902 0544


PR consultant

Debra Boraston

+44 (0)20 7483 1950