Photo by Kate Lemmon

Photo by Kate Lemmon

Music Director
Chicago Opera Theater

Refugee Orchestra Project

Russian-American conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya is a fiercely committed advocate for Russian masterpieces, operatic rarities, and contemporary works on the leading edge of classical music. Her strength as an innovative and multi-faceted collaborator has brought together the worlds of puppetry, robotics, circus arts, symphonic repertoire, and opera onstage, and recently united the classical music traditions of India and the West at the United Nations.

As Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater, Lidiya is the only woman to hold that title in a multimillion-dollar opera company in the United States. Under her leadership, COT has established the Vanguard Initiative, a three-pronged investment in new opera that includes a two-year residency for emerging opera composers.

Lidiya believes that artistic programming can help shift perspectives on social issues. Her experiences as a refugee inspired her to found the Refugee Orchestra Project, which proclaims the cultural and societal relevance of refugees through music, and has brought that message to hundreds of thousands of listeners around the world. A sought-after speaker, she has led sessions at the League of American Orchestras and Opera America conferences, and recently served as U.S. Representative to the World Opera Forum in Madrid.



Beth Stewart