The Kiev Virtuosi (in Ukrainian: Virtuosi Kyiv) bill themselves as the first independent orchestra in Ukraine. The group was founded in 2016 by conductor Dmitry Yablonsky, a comparatively rare example of a musician from the former Soviet Union who was educated and began his career mainly in the West (in Yablonsky's case, at the Julliard School) but he returned home and generated new projects, including this one, which replaced an earlier venture called the Kiev Soloists. Yablonsky hand-picked the musicians for the new ensemble, drawn from the ranks of recent prize-winners around Ukraine; the players have an average age of about 30. The Kiev Virtuosi have dual configurations as a chamber orchestra and as a full symphony orchestra. From the start, the group attracted attention both in and beyond Ukraine. The orchestra has attracted concerto collaborators from the very top rank of international performers, including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Shlomo Mintz, and Yablonsky's mother, Oksana Yablonskaya. It has toured Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy, the U.S., and South America, and both forms of the orchestra have had residencies at the Gabala Music Festival in Azerbaijan. Orchestral concerts at the Franco Theatre in Kiev have drawn sellout crowds. In addition to Western music, the orchestra has championed compositions by composers from the Slavic worlds including Krzysztof Penderecki, Valentin Silvestrov, and Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk. They are official Ambassadors of Ukrainian Culture under the auspices of Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Kiev Virtuosi signed with the Naxos label and released its debut recording, featuring the Chamber Orchestra, Op. 73a and Symphony for Strings, Op. 118a, of Shostakovich in 2017. Their second album included the music of Valentin Silvestrov, and in 2018, they issued the Symphony No. 1 of the neglected Azeri composer Kara Karayev, together with his Violin Concerto, featuring soloist Janna Gandelman.
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