Greenville Symphony Orchestra

About The GSO

Maestro Edvard Tchivzhel

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 and the GSO in 2004. Now in his 11th season with the GSO, Maestro Tchivzhel has become an icon in the Greenville community and a motivational force behind its orchestra.

Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Tchivzhel 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. In 1998, he debuted with the Stockholm Philharmonic.

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.” 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 February 2007. 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 in 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.  In the fall of 2011, the Maestro returned to Australia to perform a series of concerts with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and has been invited back for conducting tours in the fall of 2012 and the summer of 2013.  Maestro Tchivzhel is also currently invited to conduct a series of concerts in Romania during the spring of 2013.  He will perform again in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June of 2013.

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, 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, 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. After defecting, his son Arvid, and his wife Luba became U.S. citizens in 1999.