Nikolaj-Szeps Znaider has been named the new Music Director of the Orchestra national de lyon, starting in September 2020. He succeeds Leonard Slatkin who served as Music Director from 2011 to 2017 and who now takes the title of Honorary Conductor.
Szeps-Znaider (he recently has started to use his full name) first came to note as a violinist, but later took up conducting and has held Principal Guest posts with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra. He also has strong ties with the London Symphony Orchestra with whom he has recorded the complete Mozart violin concertos (Nos 4 & 5, reviewed in Gramophone’s May 2018 issue, drew the comment that ‘Nikolaj Znaider delights the ear with playing that mingles his trademark finesse with an impish exuberance so crucial to these works of Mozart’s teens. Everything has a specific, individual character.’) A second volume, containing Nos 1-3 has just been released by LSO Live.
‘The Orchestre national de Lyon is based in a vibrant city that offers full and meaningful support to its cultural institutions of which the ONL is a particularly precious gem,’ commented Szeps-Znaider. ‘It is already a marvellous ensemble with its own distinct sound and the musicians have a healthy pride in their heritage whilst possessing the hunger necessary to climb to and reach new heights. It is an honour, a privilege and above all a great pleasure to be joining them in this quest.’
He first conducted the orchestra in December 2017 and clearly made a strong impact on the players. Aline Sam-Giao, the orchestra’s Chief Executive, commented that ‘Together with the musicians, I am convinced that Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider is at the ideal moment in his career to take the Orchestre national de Lyon to an unparalleled level. We are very excited to embark on our musical journey with him in his first position as a Music Director.’
Gramophone's James Jolly recently talked to Nikolaj-Znaider in a Gramophone Podcast: