Classical Music

New Music Director at Illinois’ Rockford Symphony Orchestra

Israeli conductor Yaniv Attar was chosen for the role out of nine finalists 


The Rockford Symphony Orchestra’s (RSO) search for a new music director began in Fall 2019 but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of 200 applicants, nine candidates visited Rockford for a week each for the final round in January 2022. Yaniv Attar, like the other finalists, got to know the RSO community, plus rehearsed and performed a full concert with its musicians, who also filled out surveys after each performance.

Upon his appointment, Israeli conductor Yaniv Attar succeeds Steven Larsen in the role, who retired in 2019 after a 30-year tenure, and currently serves as RSO’s music director emeritus. Attar will perform his first concert in his role officially in Fall 2023. 

“Not only is Yaniv an incredibly talented conductor, he is also passionate about music, music education, and community engagement,” said RSO’s executive director Julie Thomas. “I’m excited for what’s ahead for the Rockford Symphony Orchestra under his leadership.”

A graduate of New York’s Juilliard School, London’s Royal College of Music, and McGill University, Attar studied conducting with Israel Edelson, Virginia Allen, Neil Thomson, and Alexis Hauser. He is the music director of the Bellingham Symphony, Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra, and Artistic Partner with Northwest Sinfonietta. He was also assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra during a two-year residency. 

His conducting engagements have included the Cincinnati Symphony, Duna Szimfonikus Budapest, Dohnanyi Orchestra Budapest, Hamburg Symphony, Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali Milan, Jerusalem Symphony, Lithuanian State Symphony, Manhattan School of Music Orchestra, Mihail Jora Philharmonic Romania, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Russe Philharmonic Bulgaria, Salzburg Chamber Soloists, among many others.

Also an accomplished classical guitarist, Attar was the first guitarist to win Israel’s Aviv Competition Prize and the Juilliard School’s Concerto Competition. His many accolades include first prize at the Duna Szimfonikus Conducting Competition Budapest, the 2009 Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation Award, and being a multi-time recipient of the Sir Georg Solti Foundation Award.


A video introducing Attar can be viewed below.

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