Ira Levin, Conductor

Ira Levin has conducted more than 1000 performances of over 60 operas. His concert programs as a conductor and pianist have included most of the standard repertoire and many lesser-known works. He has worked with many internationally renowned instrumentalists, singers and stage directors.  

Since the beginning of the 2013 season he is Principal Guest Conductor at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, where he made his operatic debut with “Lohengrin” in September 2011, and was invited back for the 2012 season to conduct the first-ever staged performances of Enescu’s “Oedipe” in the Americas. In Buenos Aires Ira Levin conducts three opera productions, as well as several concerts, each season. In 2013 he will also make his debut at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, conducting his orchestration of Busoni’s “Fantasia Contrappuntistica” and Schumann’s 4th Symphony with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. In this concert he will also appear as piano soloist in Mozart’s piano concerto No. 14.  

In addition to his busy schedule as a conductor, Ira Levin has written several piano transcriptions and orchestrations. His complete transcriptions for piano have been published by the Finnish Edition Tilli, while the CD “Ira Levin Piano Transcriptions” wasalready released by the Spanish label Lindoro in 2007, and chosen by the prestigious magazine Revista Bravo as the best classical CD of the year in Brazil. In 2011/12 Edition Tilli also published his orchestrations of Busoni’s “Fantasia Contrappuntistica”, Liszt’s “Fantasia and Fugue on BACH”, and César Franck’s piano quintet entitled “Symphony in f-minor”. 

With the London Symphony Orchestra he recorded a CD of works by the American composer Michael Colina, which appeared in 2011 on Fleur de Son/Naxos and received excellent reviews. A second CD with Levin and the LSO featuring works by Colina was released in September 2012. A third, with the Scottish National Orchestra, will follow in 2014. 

Other CDs include the first modern recording of the 1899 1st edition of Bruckner’s 6th Symphony with the Symphony Orchestra of the Norrlands Opera, released in 2009 by Lindoro. The world premiere recording of the 1892 1st edition of Bruckner’s 2nd Symphony will be available in 2013. 

A native of Chicago, Ira Levin began piano lessons at the age of 9 and entered the Northwestern University School of Music’s program at 12 years old. At 17, he began his piano studies with Jorge Bolet at Indiana University, following him the next year to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he became Bolet’s teaching assistant as well. While at Curtis, he studied conducting with Max Rudolf, and appeared in performances of Leonard Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety”, conducted by the composer himself. 

In 1985 he was engaged as assistant to Michael Gielen at the Frankfurt Opera, where he made his conducting debut with “Fidelio”. He then went on to become Principal Conductor at the Bremen Opera from 1988-1996, and at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf, from 1996-2002, as well as holding the position of Principal Guest Conductor at the Kassel Opera from 1994-1998.  

Since then Ira Levin has performed with orchestras and at opera houses throughout the world. These include the Dresden Semper Opera, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra, the Düsseldorf Symphony, the Duisburg Philharmonic, the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, the Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe, the Bremen Philharmonic, the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra Lisbon, the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Taiwan, the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, the Dublin Opera, the Montpellier Opera, the Norske Opera in Oslo, the Cape Town Opera, and many others. 

In 2001 he became Music and Artistic Director of the Theatro Municipal and the Municipal Orchestra in São Paulo, Brazil, the first North American to head one of the most important opera houses in South America. He held this post from 2002-2005, bringing the Municipal and its orchestra national and international acclaim. He conducted the first Janáček opera in Brazil’s history, “Jenufa”, in 2004, and the Brazilian premieres of Janáček’s “Missa Glagolitica”, Shostakovich’s 4th Symphony, Mahler’s 10th Symphony, Sibelius’ “Kullervo”, Schoenberg’s Concerto for String Quartet, and many other classic and modern works. In November of 2004 Ira Levin and the Municipal Orchestra of São Paulo won the coveted Carlos Gomes Award for the best orchestra in Brazil.  

From 2007-2010 he was the Music and Artistic Director of the National Theater of Brazil, in Brasilia, bringing the orchestra hugely diverse concert seasons and international attention, as well as one of the largest educational programs in South America, attended by over 45.000 students from public schools.  He also toured with the orchestra in Brazil and South Korea. 

An award winning pianist, he won the 1st prize at the American Chopin Competition in 1980. He has performed throughout the United States, South America, and Europe. He continues to appear in recital and concert, often leading concertos from the keyboard as well.