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The Southwest Florida Symphony Announces Interim Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor

2024-25 Season Programming Announcement to Follow

FORT MYERS, Fla. (May 29, 2024) After the unanticipated departure of the Southwest Florida Symphony’s Music Director, Radu Paponiu this spring, its board, staff and orchestra committee swiftly convened to work together to identify an Interim Artistic Advisor to serve as artistic leadership until a search for a new Music Director can launch. The Southwest Florida Symphony is pleased to announce that it has appointed rising star, Maestro Stilian Kirov.

Chief Executive Officer, Amy Ginsburg, said, “There was immediate professional chemistry upon my first conversation with Maestro Kirov. His experience with regional orchestras, his artistic flexibility and open-mindedness, and his obvious passion for the work he does immediately informed us that he would be a great fit for this role.”

Maestro Kirov went on to say, “I am thrilled to be joining the SWFLSO and working with the fabulous musicians, staff and board. During our initial conversations, I was inspired to learn about the orchestra’s innovative direction and the unlimited potential for the organization to continue its growth and outreach to new audiences. I feel very privileged and looking forward to an exciting season ahead!”

The Maestro is in the process of finalizing programming drafts to complement repertoire selected for next season, further demonstrating his enthusiasm for joining the Southwest Florida Symphony family. 

About Maestro Stilian Kirov

First Prize Winner of the “Debut Berlin” Concert Competition, prizewinner at Denmark’s 2015 Malko Competition as well as the 2010 Mitropoulos Competition, Stilian Kirov made his debut at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2017. He is currently Music Director of the Illinois Philharmonic and the Bakersfield Symphony. A former Music Director of Symphony in C in New Jersey (2015-2020), he is also a recipient of numerous Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards (2016-2019).

​            Highlights of Kirov’s guest performances include appearances worldwide with the Israel Camerata, Xi’An Symphony, Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra, Sofia Philharmonic, Leopolis Chamber Orchestra/Ukraine, Orchestra of Colors/Athens, Orchestre Colonne/Paris, Sofia Festival Orchestra, State Hermitage Orchestra/St. Petersburg, Thüringen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Zagreb Philharmonic, the Musical Olympus International Festival in St. Petersburg, and the Victoria Symphony/British Columbia, among others.

In the United States, Kirov has collaborated with the symphonies of Seattle, Memphis, Chautauqua, Omaha, West Virginia as well as the Amarillo Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra/Breckenridge, and the Tucson Symphony and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Kirov assisted distinguished conductors such as the late Bernard Haitink with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as well as Stéphane Denève, the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Christoph von Dohnányi, and the late Andrew Davis, all with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
            Kirov is a graduate of The Juilliard School’s orchestral conducting program, where he was a student of James DePreist. He has also studied with the late Kurt Masur, Michael Tilson Thomas, the late Gianluigi Gelmetti, George Manahan, Robert Spano and Asher Fisch, among others.
            Also a gifted pianist, Kirov was Gold Medalist of the 2001 Claude Kahn International Piano Competition in Paris.

About the Southwest Florida Symphony’s 64th Season

As Lee County’s only professional orchestra and the fourth oldest in the state, the Southwest Florida Symphony enters yet another new era. 2024-25 marks the orchestra’s 64th season, which will feature the Southwest Florida Symphony’s signature creative and innovative programming. There are months of delightful musical surprises in store, with announcement following on the heels of Maestro Kirov’s appointment. 

The Southwest Florida Symphony will continue to deliver its MainStage Concerts at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, repeating select performances at Charlotte Performing Arts Center in Punta Gorda. It will also resume Small Stage Symphonies performances at the Tribby Center for the Arts at Shell Point. With ambitious performances already on the schedule, the season will ramp up quickly, beginning in mid-October. 

Details on the Southwest Florida Symphony’s season will be regularly updated throughout the summer and can be found at Subscriptions are on sale now and may be purchased by calling 239-418-1500 or emailing [email protected].

Our Generous Sponsors and Partners

The Southwest Florida Symphony’s sponsor list includes The City of Fort Myers, The State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, The Florida Council on Arts & Culture, The Lee County Visitors Convention Bureau, The Southwest Florida Symphony Endowment Foundation, The Southwest Florida Symphony Society, The L.A.T. Foundation, Uhler, Vertich & White Advisors, Ellie Fox, Coconut Point Mall, Nice Guys Pizza, Enterprise Holdings, Sam Galloway Ford, The Alliance for the Arts, Charlotte County Schools, The Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Zsebe & Associates, CopyLady, Gary Niethamer and Sue Purcell, The Thomas Kooyumjian Foundation, Seminole Casino Hotel, Suncoast Credit Union, Adventures in Paradise, The Jewish Federation of Lee & Charlotte Counties, Radiology Regional, Liz Marnul, Estelle Weedon, Penny Wilkinson, Burgess Brant Consulting Engineers, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Jeff Cull and Ella Nayor, Rob Diefenbach, Mr. Eric Diefenbach and JK Brown, Alex Bremner, and Robert and Reina Schlager.

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