In the 18/19 season, Lahav Shani took over from Yannick Nézet-Séguin as Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. In the 20/21 season, he will become Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, taking over from Zubin Mehta who has held the appointment for 50 years. Shani has also been Principal Guest Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra since 2017.
In June 2016 Shani debuted with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra as conductor and solo pianist. No less than two months later, his appointment as Chief Conductor was announced and he became the youngest conductor to hold the position in the orchestra’s history. During his first season in the role, Shani led the orchestra in concerts across Europe, China and Taiwan, and in spring 2020 he will tour with them across the US.
Shani’s close relationship with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra began over 10 years ago. He debuted with the orchestra aged sixteen, and in 2007 performed Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto under the baton of Zubin Mehta aged eighteen. He then went on to play regularly with the orchestra as a double bassist. In 2013, after winning the Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg, the orchestra invited him to step in to conduct their season-opening concerts. Since then, he has returned to the orchestra every year as both a conductor and pianist, to lead the final concert of their 80th Anniversary celebrations in December 2016. In the 2019/20 season he will have the title Music Director Designate.
Shani works regularly with the Staatskapelle Berlin, both in opera productions at the Staatsoper Berlin and for symphonic concerts. Recent and upcoming guest conductor highlights include engagements with Vienna Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchester, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Berliner Philharmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Philharmonia Orchestra.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1989, Shani began his piano studies aged six with Hannah Shalgi, before continuing with Prof. Arie Vardi at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music. He went on to study conducting under Prof. Christian Ehwald and piano with Prof. Fabio Bidini at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler, Berlin; and was mentored by Daniel Barenboim during his time there.
As a pianist, the 2019/20 season sees Shani perform Stravinsky Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments with Valery Gergiev and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3 with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin. He has play-directed piano concerti with many orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Shani also has considerable experience performing chamber music and in recital and is a regular performer at the Verbier Festival, and has also appeared at the Aix-en-Provence Easter and Jerusalem Chamber Music Festivals.