The Early Years in the USSR
Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Tchivzhel (pronounced CHIV-GEL) 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 U.S.S.R. 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.
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 became the chief conductor of the Umeå Sinfonietta, Sweden, and frequently performed with the symphony orchestras of Helsinborg, Malmö and Norrköpping.
Defection from the USSR
As associate conductor of the U.S.S.R. 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. 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.
Extensive United States and International Conducting Experience
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 1998, he debuted with the Stockholm Philharmonic. 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 February 2007 and June 2013 . 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. Maestro has since become a permanent guest conductor with the Queensland Symphony, having returned every year since his debut. In 2013, shortly after conducting in Rio de Janerio, the Maestro conducted the Queensland Symphony again and performed with the Southern Sinfonia in Dunedin, New Zealand. In 2016, Maestro Tchivzhel has been invited to conduct in China and in San Jose, California.
Performances with World-Acclaimed Artists
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.
Eighteen Years Conducting 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 also teaches master classes in conducting as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Furman University.