Yaniv Segal

Founder, Conductor Laureate, Artistic Advisor

Yaniv Segal, currently active as a conductor and composer, has been performing on stages around the world since he was eight years old. In the 2017-2018 season, Yaniv debuted with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, where he also served as the main cover conductor. He also went on a European tour with the I, CULTURE, Orchestra as the assistant to Andrey Boreyko, and returns to conduct the Toledo Symphony and Orlando Philharmonic. Yaniv recorded Beethoven Reimagined with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, featuring music by Gabriel Prokofiev (Sergei Prokofiev’s grandson) that is a hip-hop inspired remix of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as well as two Beethoven “premieres:” Sonata for Orchestra Op.30 No.2b and The Triumph of Love: Suite from Fidelio.

In 2016, Yaniv released a CD of Klezmer-influenced orchestral music by David Chesky entitled Joy and Sorrow. Called “a winner” by Fanfare Magazine, and recorded using the latest binaural technology, the album features The Chelsea Symphony with soloists Artur Kaganovskiy, Ethan Herschenfeld, Moran Katz, and Kristina Reiko Cooper. Yaniv also recorded David Chesky's score to the 2017 animated film The Mice War, an opera which teaches children’ the folly of war.

Between 2014-2017, Yaniv was the Assistant Conductor of the Naples Philharmonic and Director of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. He led the Naples Philharmonic in nearly twenty different classical, educational, and pops programs per year including sharing the stage with legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman in a concert that the Naples Daily News called “off the charts.” The reviewer noted that “any classical music lover who missed this concert should weep” and that the performance of The Pines of Rome was one of the most exciting ever heard.” Yaniv’s successful debuts with the Krakow Philharmonic and Opera led to his appointment as the Assistant Conductor of the Krzysztof Penderecki Festival in Warsaw, where he has prepared orchestras for Valery Gergiev, Charles Dutoit, Maximiano Valdes, and Rafael Payare. Yaniv's debut with the Macon Symphony prompted the Telegraph to report that he is "more progressive than many" and that "Segal left us wishing the concert could have gone longer." Performances with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra led the Pantagraph to call him a "talented director," while the Giornale di Sicilia called him "enthusiastic, lively, and incisive" when describing his Italian debut with the Sinfonica Siciliana di Palermo.

As a composer, Yaniv pursues his passions of both writing original works and also re-working past masterpieces into new formats. In October of 2013, the Chelsea Symphony under Yaniv's baton premiered his Rite of Spring (Redux), a modernized and reduced arrangement of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring including electric guitar, bass guitar, and saxophone. In the 2016-17 season, the Naples Philharmonic performed several of Yaniv’s works, including Beethoven’s Sonata for Orchestra in C Minor Op.30 No.2b, songs by Alma Mahler arranged for orchestra, and a brass fanfare. The Naples Philharmonic subsequently commissioned Yaniv for a work to be performed nearly thirty times on the Young People’s Concert series in the 2018-19 season.

Yaniv studied violin with Setsu Goto, Midori’s mother, in New York City, and was a soloist several times with the Yonkers Philharmonic. While active as a freelancer on both violin and viola, he also performed chamber music regularly with members of the New York Philharmonic. Yaniv joined the Metropolitan Opera Children's Chorus in 1989 and sang both in the choir and as a soloist with great conductors such as James Levine, Valery Gergiev and Georg Solti, sharing the stage with legendary singers Samuel Ramey, Luciano Pavarotti, and Dawn Upshaw, among others. Yaniv continued to perform as a singer and actor when he toured the USA and Japan as Colin in The Secret Garden, which he performed alongside multiple award winner Audra McDonald. His stage acting career culminated in a role in Tom Stoppard's Hapgood, which he performed at Lincoln Center alongside celebrated actors Stockard Channing, David Straithairn, and Josef Sommers. In the early 90s, Yaniv could be heard singing on TV commercials for Pepsi as well as on compact discs ranging from classical opera to rock and folk music.

As a strong believer that music be connected and relevant to modern culture, Yaniv has been integral in the creation of three innovative music organizations. He first cofounded and music directed the Mahagonny Ensemble at Vassar College - a chamber orchestra devoted to music of the past 100 years. While active as a freelancer in NYC, he was a founding board member and violinist with the Pamplemousse Ensemble - a contemporary ensemble dedicated to cutting edge new music and multi-disciplinary performances. In 2005, he cofounded and was one the first music director of the Chelsea Symphony - an orchestra that provides unique performance opportunities for both rising and established instrumentalists, composers, and conductors. The Chelsea Symphony, which can frequently be seen as the orchestra for the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle, has performed dozens of world premieres and under-programmed works alongside standard repertoire.

Yaniv is also dedicated to bringing symphonic music of all types to a broad audience. As music director of the Michigan Pops Orchestra between 2010-2012, he was known for exciting concerts that blurred the distinction between genres, often juxtaposing works by classical composers such as Wagner and Mahler against popular music from films such as Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings, and by rock groups such as the Beatles or R.E.M. He also presented several world premieres including the US premiere of Australian composer Matthew Hindson's Litespeed, spearheaded a concerto competition for local high school students, and expanded the size of the orchestra to over 100 musicians.

Known for having a strong rapport with orchestral musicians and audiences alike, Yaniv has worked as an assistant and cover conductor with the New York Youth Symphony, Princeton Symphony and at the Manhattan School of Music, among others. In past seasons, Yaniv has also conducted the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, New Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria), Thuringen Philharmonie (Germany), Ukrainian State Symphony, Castleton Festival Orchestra, University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Symphony, Greenwich Village Orchestra, and Stamford Young People's Symphony. As a collaborative conductor, he has accompanied great artists such as Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Mark Peskanov, and Francesco Libetti, in venues from Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center to Brooklyn's intimate Bargemusic.

Invited by Lorin Maazel to his inaugural class of students at the Castleton Festival, Yaniv has also studied with Kurt Masur at the Manhattan School of Music and in Wroclaw, Poland, and participated in masterclasses with Michael Tilson Thomas, Gustav Meier, and Colin Metters. In 2013 Yaniv completed graduate studies in conducting and composition at the University of Michigan with renowned conductor and pedagogue Kenneth Kiesler and MacArthur Award winning composer Bright Sheng.

The child of Polish and Israeli immigrants, Yaniv grew up speaking three languages in a multi-cultural household. In support of his education, achievements, and contributions to American Society he was a recipient of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans in 2009.