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Illinois Philharmonic Renews Music Director Stilian Kirov's Contract

The young Bulgarian conductor will remain with the orchestra until the conclusion of the 2026/27 season


Conductor Stilian Kirov will stay at the helm of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) for another four years, on account of having accepted a second contract extension.

The extension ensures that Kirov will lead the orchestra through to the end of the 2026/27 season, by which time he will have been its Music Director for a full decade.

Over the course of his tenure, Kirov has significantly expanded the IPO's offerings, both onstage and in the community. He has grown the proportion of American music and music by underrepresented composers on the orchestra's programs and supported living composers by establishing the Classical Evolve composers' competition.

With the IPO, he has given the world premiere performance of fifteen works, as well as leading the orchestra's first-ever recording on Cedille Records.

Hailing originally from Sofia, Bulgaria, Kirov studied conducting at The Juilliard School with James DePriest. He was a prizewinner at the 2015 Malko Competition, and received First Prize at the "Debut Berlin" Concert Competition, making his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in 2017.

"Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra is excited to celebrate four more years of Maestro Kirov’s exciting and adventurous leadership as its music director," said Kathleen Field Orr, the Immediate Past President of the IPO's Board of Directors.

"Given Maestro’s accomplishments these past years, we are certain that the orchestra will continue to achieve even newer heights as the premier presenter of classical music in the Southland."

"I am very happy to continue working with our Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and I am thrilled to keep building our organization together," Kirov said.

"We have a stellar IPO team with our fantastic musicians, administration, and board as well as our exceptional Executive Director Christina Salerno. IPO is a real musical family and performing for our audiences has been a true privilege. I look forward to a bright future with exciting projects and many unforgettable concerts!"

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