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Twenty-nine year-old Lahav Shani named as Zubin Mehta's successor at the Israel Philharmonic

The young Israeli described the appointment as a 'tremendous honour'

    Lahav Shani (Intermusica)

    A 29-year-old conductor has been named as the new musical director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), replacing Zubin Mehta.

    The move has been praised as “a bold choice”.

    Lahav Shani will take over as director from the orchestra’s 2020/2021 season, succeeding Mr Mehta, 81, who has directed the IPO since 1969.

    Mr Shani described the appointment as “a tremendous honour.

    “This orchestra conducted my musical development from a very young age, and my close connection with the orchestra has guided me for all of my artistic life.”

    Born in Tel Aviv in 1989, Mr Shani began learning the piano at age six. His mentors included Daniel Barenboim, the internationally renowned pianist and conductor. Mr Shani began playing with the Israeli Philharmonic as a teenager. He started his conducting career in 2008, and five years later, won the top prize at Germany’s prestigious Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition.

    This will not be the only musical director role Mr Shani will hold. Later this year he is due to become the chief conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also currently the principal guest conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

    Intermusica, the international classical music agency, describes Mr Shani as “prodigiously gifted”. Orchestras he has conducted or will be conducting in the near future  include the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

    Mr. Shani was elected to the position by “a large majority” of the orchestra’s musicians, Yoel Abadi, the Philharmonic’s chairman, said in a statement.

    Norman Lebrecht, the veteran musical journalist, lauded the choice on his Slipped Disc blog, calling Mr Shani’s selection “a bold choice and a commendable one.

    “He has grown up with members of the Israel Phil, knows and the pluses and minuses, and is gifted enough to put right the many things that have ossified during decades when – as in the peace process – no progress has been made.

    “The players are to be congratulated on their choice.”

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