Internationally acclaimed conductor, Maestro Edvard Tchivzhel (pronounced CHIV-gel), serves as Music Director and Conductor of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. “Maestro Tchivzhel is, simply put, a master… his music-making is indisputably commanding and communicative,” wrote Yo-Yo Ma after performing with Tchivzhel in 2004. Now in his 19th season with the GSO, Maestro Tchivzhel has become an icon in the Greenville community and a motivational force behind the orchestra.
Son of the Violinist of the Mariinsky Theater of Opera and Ballet and concert organist, Edvard Tchivzhel was born in Leningrard (now St. Petersburg, Russia). He graduated from the Leningrad Conservatoire with the highest distinction in the areas of piano and conducting, and completed three more years of postgraduate study at the Conservatoire’s Higher Academy of Music in the prestigious conducting classes of Arvid Jansons. While still a student, Tchivzhel scored a remarkable success by winning the Third Soviet Conductor’s Competition in Moscow. He worked as Assistant Conductor to the legendary conductor Yevgeni Mravinsky with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra from 1974 until 1977. By the late 1970s, Tchivzhel appeared as permanent guest conductor with the Leningrad Philharmonic and conducted the Moscow Philharmonic, the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Leningrad’s Kirov Theatre of Opera and Ballet, as well as many other orchestras throughout the former USSR. In 1973, Tchivzhel became Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Karelian Symphony Orchestra of National Television and Radio, a position he held until 1991. Maestro has been awarded the ranks of “Honored Artist of the Republic of Karelia” and “Honored Artist of the Russian Federation”.
In the 1980s, Tchivzhel’s career achieved international status with appearances in England, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand, where he served as Artistic Advisor for the Auckland Philharmonic. In 1986, he was appointed the Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Umeå Sinfonietta and the Norlands Opera, Sweden, and frequently performed with the symphony orchestras of Helsinborg, Malmö and Norrköpping. In 1998, he debuted with the Stockholm Philharmonic. In 1992, 1996, and 2000, Tchivzhel served with the Sydney International Piano Competition as the Conductor and Member of the Jury.
As associate conductor of the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, Tchivzhel toured widely, scoring great success during a tour in Japan in 1990. In February 1991, Tchivzhel was enthusiastically received during a tour of the State Russian Symphony Orchestra in the United States. Following this tour, he defected to the U.S with the help of friends in Greenville, the city he considers his “American cradle.” After defecting, his son Arvid, and his wife Luba became U.S. citizens in 1999. As an American citizen, it is now a tradition for the Maestro to lead the orchestra in the playing of The Star Spangled Banner at the beginning of each concert. Tchivzhel returned to Russia in April 2003 (for the first time since his defection) to once again conduct the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in a performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.
Tchivzhel has conducted several American orchestras, including the Baltimore Symphony and the Atlantic Sinfonietta, a chamber orchestra based in New York, where he served as Music Director from 1992 until 1994. He made acclaimed debuts with the Indianapolis Symphony in 1995 and the Grand Rapids Symphony in 1998. Maestro’s debut with the Dayton Opera in 2008 in the production of Verdi’s Macbeth was hailed by critics as “the triumph of the Dayton Opera.”
In 2002, Tchivzhel conducted in Venezuela, and in 2005, he performed Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 with the Orquestra Sinfonica del Estado in Mexico in commemoration of the victory in World War II. After a spectacular premiere of Scriabin’s “Divine Poem” with the Orquestra Sinfónica Brasileira in Rio de Janeiro in 2004, Maestro was invited back to conduct in 2007 and 2013 with the Petrobras Symphony Orchestra of Brazil. In 2006, Maestro Tchivzhel conducted a Russian-Hungarian program in Spain with the Extremadura Symphony Orchestra to high acclaim. He was invited to perform again in Spain and Romania in 2008. In May of 2009, Maestro Tchivzhel made a triumphal debut with the L’Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma, Italy. In April and May of 2010, he scored another great success conducting the Macau Symphony Orchestra in China and the Queensland Symphony in Australia where the Maestro became a permanent conductor continuing his successful performances in Brisbane every year since. In summer of 2016, Maestro made his highly successful debut with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, China, the Silicon Valley Symphony, California, and the Augusta Symphony, Georgia.
Tchivzhel has performed with many great artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Gidon Kremer, Vladimir Spivakov, Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg, Emmanuel Ax, Andre Watts, Janos Starker, Olga Kern, Nicolai Demidenko, Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, Bella Davidovich, Yuri Bashmet, Evelyn Glennie, Sharon Isbin, Doc Severinsen, and Pete Fountain. He has made numerous recordings with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Moscow Radio Orchestra, the State Russian Orchestra, the Atlantic Sinfonietta, with several orchestras in Sweden, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
Tchivzhel was selected as Music Director and Conductor for the Greenville Symphony Orchestra in 1999. He served as Music Director for the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Philharmonic from 1993 until 2008. Tchivzhel teaches master classes in conducting as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Furman University. As recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the musical arts, Maestro Tchivzhel was awarded The Congressional Johnny Appleseed Award in 2004 and The Order of the Palmetto, the highest award in the State of South Carolina, in 2016.
Tchivzhel conducted this movement with frequently fluctuating tempos. The Scherzo was a set of steady but abruptly shifting tempos, with a drop into a calmer luxuriousness in the trio. Here, and in the outer movements, the crispness of the winds and an almost military precision in the heavy brass and percussion came to the fore. Even considering some minor flubs, this was outstanding work from the orchestra, which was fully responsive to Tchivzhel’s ideas.
The orchestra responded magnificently to Tchivzhel all night, as he offered a grand sense of proportion in Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony.