At 31, Polish-born conductor Krzysztof Urbański has already made huge waves in the classical music world. He became the youngest-ever music director of a major U.S. symphony when he assumed this role at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in 2011 (besting a mark previously set by Gustavo Dudamel at the Los Angeles Philharmonic). This fall, he begins his fourth year at Indianapolis, where his contract has been extended through the 2017-2018 season.
After making his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in May, Urbański also will record two more important debuts this summer: his first conducting engagement with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and his first appearance at Ravinia. On July 10, he will lead the CSO in Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird (1945 version), Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”).
With his youthful nonchalance, Urbański “gives off a dashing rock star vibe and resembles a young Herbert von Karajan on the podium,” according to the Los Angeles Times. But he doesn’t view his age as an impediment. “What matters is your approach to the music, the way you work; when you’re a professional, age doesn’t matter,” he said in a lengthy interview with the Indianapolis alt-weekly Nuvo. “For me, I’ve just become used to being the youngest person on the stage. Frankly, I started my professional conducting a few years ago, and I remember thinking then: They’re so much older than myself. How am I going to tell them that their intonation is bad? But right now, nothing can stop me; I’m not feeling limited in any way [by my age].”
In the same feature, an ISO player predicts: “When we first saw him, he was just being discovered by American orchestras. His future is bright, and I hope he takes the ISO along with him. You could see him as a music director with one of the top five orchestras some day. He’s that kind of talent.”
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PHOTO: Krzysztof Urbański, photographed by Fred Jonny.