Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Orchestra signs backup conductor

Danail Rachev, like associate conductor Rossen Milanov, hails from Bulgaria.

The Philadelphia Orchestra has acquired a second Bulgarian conductor with Thursday's announcement that Danail Rachev will become assistant conductor at the start of the 2008-9 season. He is currently assistant conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and will leave that position at the end of the current season.

His Philadelphia duties, which will span at least 12 weeks a season, will include "covering" concerts conducted by music director Christoph Eschenbach as well as leading family, outreach and educational concerts.

The 37-year-old conductor (whose name is pronounced "dan-ah-you RACH-ehv") acknowledges having been inspired by the U.S. success of Philadelphia Orchestra's Bulgarian associate conductor, Rossen Milanov, "though he didn't know I was auditioning," Rachev said Thursday. Auditions took place with Eschenbach last fall, and entailed leading the orchestra in excerpts from the Brahms Symphony No. 3 and Mozart's overture to The Magic Flute, among others.

"I'd never conducted an orchestra on that level. I was amazed by the beauty of the sound. It's such a tasteful beauty," he said.

Rachev was trained at the State Musical Academy of Sofia, where he has conducted opera. His U.S. training includes a 2001 Master of Music in orchestra conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, as well as conducting the Juilliard Pre-College Symphony from 2002 to 2005. His Dallas Symphony appointment began in 2005.

His primary teacher was Gustav Meier, though he also worked with Michael Tilson Thomas at Miami's New World Symphony, as well as with David Zinman at the Aspen Festival. He credits Meier for emphasizing conducting technique that serves musical vision, Zinman for stressing rehearsal efficiency, and Tilson Thomas for instilling a sense of "extreme professionalism."

Past Philadelphia Orchestra assistant conductors have included Artur Rodzinski, who went on to lead the New York Philharmonic, and Alexander Smallens, who premiered George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts.