Levon Parikian - Musical Director

Levon Parikian has been one of our regular conductors since 2000, and our Musical Director since 2004.

Levon's first musical influence was his father, the renowned violinist Manoug Parikian, whose musicianship and experience as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader instilled in Levon from an early age a deep appreciation of the tradition of musical performance.

While studying timpani and percussion at the Royal Academy of Music, Levon developed his interest in conducting, and subsequently studied privately with Michael Rose and David Parry. Following further study with George Hurst, and at his encouragement, Levon auditioned successfully for a position in Ilya Musin’s class at the St. Petersburg conservatoire. Here he gained an insight into Musin’s rigorous technique of conducting, which has influenced generations of Russian conductors.

Since his return from Russia, Levon has pursued a freelance conducting career, and is much in demand as Guest Conductor with orchestras in Britain. He currently holds Principal Conductor posts with several London-based orchestras, is Principal Conductor of the City of Oxford Orchestra, and Artistic Director of The Rehearsal Orchestra. He is also very committed to training young musicians and has worked extensively with students and youth orchestras, including the Hertfordshire County Youth Orchestra, National Youth Strings Academy, Royal College of Music Junior Sinfonia, and at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he also taught conducting for fifteen years. 

In 2012 Levon conducted the UK premiere of Armen Tigranian's opera Anoush with London Armenian Opera. In 2014 he conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra in a re-recording of the theme tune for Hancock's Half Hour for lost episodes recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Levon recently conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra again, along with violinist Jack Liebeck, for Raptures, the debut orchestral album of composer Stuart Hancock which was released in November 2019.

Levon has a parallel career as a writer. His first book Waving, Not Drowning was published in 2013 and is an entertaining insight into the conductor's world, called 'a must-read' by Classical Music Magazine. It is availabile in paperback and e-book formats. His second book, Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?a sorry tale of atrocious birdwatching, was published in May 2018 by Unbound and was described in The Times Literary Supplement as 'good-hearted and well-made, funny and clever'. His next book, Into the Tangled Bank, an exploration of our relationship with nature, was published in July 2020 and longlisted for the Wainwright Prize. Levon's fourth book, Music to Eat Cake By, was published by Unbound in November 2020. Each of its 40 pieces of writing, ranging from 100 to 4,000 words was commissioned by readers who have chosen subject and length - exploring everything from the art of the sandwich and space travel to how not to cure hiccups, and of course, his beloved birdsong. Levon's latest book Light Rain Sometimes Falls: A British Year Through Japan's 72 Seasons was published in September 2021. For further information, visit Levon's website here.