Prodigiously gifted 27 year old Israeli conductor Lahav Shani’s conducting career was launched when he won first prize at the 2013 Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition in Bamberg. Since then he has quickly established himself as one of the most talked about young conducting talents making a huge impression with his astonishing maturity and natural, instinctive musicality.
In August 2016 it was announced that Shani will become Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2018, taking over from Yannick Nézet-Séguin and becoming the youngest chief conductor in the orchestra’s history. In the 2020/21 season, Shani will succeed Zubin Mehta as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and will be the orchestra’s Music Director Designate from 2019/20. In the 2017/18 season, Shani became Principal Guest Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, following a number of appearances with the orchestra since his debut in May 2015, including a major European tour in January 2016.
In June 2014 Shani made a sensational debut in Berlin, replacing Michael Gielen, with the Berlin Staatskapelle with concerts at the Berlin Konzerthaus and the Berlin Philharmonie. He returns to conduct the orchestra for four performances of La Bohème in December 2016 at the Berliner Staatsoper and for orchestral concerts in the Berlin Philharmonie in May 2017. In December 2015 Shani stepped in, at short notice, for an indisposed Franz Welser-Moest for concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic in the Musikverein when he directed Bach: Concerto in D minor from the keyboard and conducted Mahler 1 winning high praise from the critics and a standing ovation from the public.
In the 2016-17 season and beyond, Shani will conduct orchestras such as the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Dresden Staatskapelle, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Philharmonia Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Bamberger Symphoniker, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, The Hallé, Orchestre National de Lyon and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.
In October 2013 Shani was invited to open the season of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra – Globes, reviewing one of the performances, wrote that “this concert will be remembered as a dizzying, perhaps even historic event in the history of the Israel Philharmonic”. An immediate re-invitation followed for the next two seasons. His close relationship with the Israel Philharmonic started in 2007 when he performed Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto under the baton of Zubin Mehta, and continued in 2010 when he joined Mehta and the orchestra on tour in Asia, where he participated as solo pianist, conductor’s assistant and as double bass player.
Shani was born in 1989 in Tel Aviv. He started his piano studies at six with Hannah Shalgi, and continued with Prof. Arie Vardi at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv. He then went on to complete his studies in conducting with Prof. Christian Ehwald and piano with Prof. Fabio Bidini, both at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin. In recent years he has been mentored by Daniel Barenboim.