Musical Director

Levon Parikian - Musical Director

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

Lev'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 Lev from an early age a deep appreciation of the tradition of musical performance.

While studying timpani and percussion at the Royal Academy of Music, Lev 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, Lev 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, Lev 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 Lev 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. Lev 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.

Lev has a parallel career as a writer, and his latest book Taking Flight: The Evolutionary Story of Life on the Wing, published in May 2023, was shortlisted for the 2023 Royal Society Trivedi Science Book Prize. He also writes regularly for The Guardian's Country Diary. Lev's previous books include Waving, Not Drowning an entertaining insight into the conductor's world published in 2013; Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?, a sorry tale of atrocious birdwatching, published in May 2018 and described in The Times Literary Supplement as 'good-hearted and well-made, funny and clever'; Into the Tangled Bank, an exploration of our relationship with nature, published in July 2020 and longlisted for the Wainwright Prize; Music to Eat Cake By, published in November 2020, a collection of essays commissioned by readers; and Light Rain Sometimes Falls: A British Year Through Japan's 72 Seasons, published in September 2021. For further information, visit Lev's website here.