Donald Schleicher (ICWF 2023: Avaloch)
Donald Schleicher will be Northwestern University Bienen School of Music Artist in Residence, Director of Orchestras starting in the 2023-24 school year. This year, he is serving as guest music director at the Bienen School and Resident Conductor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.After twenty-six years as Director of Orchestras at the University of Illinois, he was awarded the title of Daniel J. Perrino Professor Emeritus, School of Music, College of Fine and Applied Arts. Previous positions include Music Director and Conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and Music Director and Principal Opera Conductor for the Pine Mountain Music Festival. At the outset of his career, he spent seven years as a high school band director in Williamsville, New York and two years as Director of Bands at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In addition, he served as both Associate Director of Bands and Associate Director of Orchestras at the University of Michigan.
Schleicher has conducted the National Philharmonic of the Ukraine, the Guiyang (China) Symphony, the Gwangju (South Korea) Symphony, the Inchon (South Korea) Philharmonic, the Daegu (South Korea) Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta Filarmonica de la UNAM of Mexico City, the South Dakota Symphony, and the orchestras of Bridgeport, Tallahassee, and Lansing. He has also appeared as a guest conductor at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in Detroit. In 2015, he returned to the PMMF to lead the festival’s 25th Anniversary Season by conducting their production of “The Barber of Seville” as well as leading the PMMF Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s monumental “Symphony No. 9.” In 2016, he guest conducted the Nairobi Orchestra in Kenya.
He is frequently invited to lead performances or provide conducting master classes at many of the countries major music schools such as the University of Colorado, the University of Texas, Oberlin Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, Baylor University, University of Minnesota, Ithaca College, Ohio State University, the University of Missouri, and Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. As an enthusiastic advocate of public school music education, Mr. Schleicher has conducted All-State orchestras, festivals, and youth orchestras in nearly every state of the United States. He is also active as a clinician for public school music educators.
As a conducting professor, Mr. Schleicher’s class at Illinois is an international draw for talented young conductors. Many of his former conducting students have gone on to hold prestigious positions with organizations such as the San Francisco Symphony, the Hartford Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, Richmond Philharmonic, and the University of Chicago. Schleicher has taught conducting in Europe every summer for the past ten years having served as the lead teacher for the International Conducting Workshop and Festival (ICWF). In addition, he has led workshops for the International Conducting Institute in Kromeriz, Czech Republic, the New York Conducting Institute, the Ithaca College International Conducting Workshop, and Conducting Master Class and Workshop Series in Chicago.
As a dedicated advocate of contemporary music, Donald has collaborated with leading composers including Chen Yi, Michael Daugherty, and Frank Ticheli among many others. In December of 2014, his collaboration with Augusta Read Thomas led to a recording project of her works now available on Nimbus Records.
Farkhad Khudyev (ICWF 2023: Avaloch)
Described by the critics as “phenomenon“ (Seattle Post Alley),“magician on the podium” (Performing Arts Monterey Bay), with “the ability to connect with invisible worlds and to bring them alive in the music”(Herald), Farkhad Khudyev, has been recognized by the government of the United States as an Artist of Extraordinary Ability.
Farkhad’s performances are described as “true, powerful, ecstatic and utterly riveting” (Herald), “graceful, very sensitive…” (Frankfurt Neue Presse), and “a triumph in every sense of the word” (New York Music Daily). Admired for “meticulous guidance, superb musicianship and extraordinarily imaginative interpretation” (Performing Arts Monterey Bay), Mr. Khudyev has worked with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Frankfurt Opera Orchestra of Germany, Danish National Symphony Orchestra of Denmark, Seattle Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Champaign-Urbana Symphony, Yale Philharmonia, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Greenwich Village Orchestra of New York City, New Jersey Youth Symphony, Manhattan School of Music Orchestra, National Orchestra of Turkmenistan, George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra of Romania, Xi’an Symphony Orchestra of China and the State Taipei Chinese Orchestra of Taiwan.
Mr. Khudyev is the winner of the Gold Medal “Beethoven 250” Special Prize at the 1st International Arthur Nikisch Conducting Competition; the Solti Foundation US 2022 Career Assistance Award; the Solti Foundation US 2018 Career Assistance Award; the Best Interpretation Prize at the 1st International Taipei Conducting Competition in Taiwan; the 3rd prize at the 8th International Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition in Germany; the 1st Prize at the Yale Chamber Music Society Competition; and the Gold Medal and Grand Prize at the 2007 National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition in the US.
Farkhad has performed around the United States, Europe and Asia at world-class venues and festivals including the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy, DR Koncerthuset in Denmark, Zhongshan Hall in Taiwan, Shaanxi Performing Center in China, the Alte Oper Frankfurt Großer Saal and the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festpiele in Germany.
Mr. Khudyev has served as the Music Director of New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra, New Haven Chamber Orchestra and Youth Music Monterey County, as well as the Associate Conductor of the Hidden Valley Opera and the Assistant Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Currently, Mr. Khudyev serves as the Music Director of the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and the Assistant Professor of Music in Orchestral Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as the Music Director of the Orchestral Institute at the Hidden Valley Institute of the Arts in Carmel, California.
Farkhad Khudyev, of Azerbaijani descent, was born in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he first studied violin, piano and composition at the State Music School for gifted musicians. At the age of 10, he distinguished himself as the youngest performer selected to play with the National Violin Ensemble of Turkmenistan, and toured around Central Asia and Eastern Europe. As a soloist and a member of the Ensemble, Farkhad performed for the Presidents of France, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. At the age of 12, he was chosen to represent the country at the International New Names Festival, sponsored by the Moscow Conservatory, and was named as one of the most promising young musicians at the festival.
In 2001, Farkhad came to the United States to study at Interlochen Arts Academy and then completed his Bachelor of Music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory. He received his Master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Yale University.
Mr. Khudyev resides in Austin, Texas, where he enjoys spending time with his Family and Nature.
Benjamin Loeb (ICWF Artistic and Executive Director)
Benjamin Loeb is an, accomplished soloist, accompanist, conductor, arranger, educator, arts administrator and entrepreneur. His piano performances have been heralded by the Boston Globe: “[his] vigorous, cogent playing signaled the kind of equally weighted partnership, plus competition, plus mutual quest, etc. that [makes] this music live.” In May 2015, he performed Morton Gould’s Interplay with the Boston Pops Orchestra at the invitation and under the direction of New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert. He has also collaborated as concerto soloist with many other conductors including JoAnn Falletta, Carl St. Clair, and Rossen Milanov. His widely varied projects range from concerts of Beethoven and Bruckner Symphonies to recordings with Yo-Yo Ma of Italian 16th century madrigalists to tours with popular rock musicians to world premieres of the most cutting-edge avant-garde contemporary music.
At the invitation of United States Department of State, Loeb toured Argentina and Uruguay as an Artistic Ambassador, performing recitals of the music of Scott Joplin and giving master classes and workshops with youth orchestras and young musicians. He has recorded for Naxos (both as soloist and collaborative pianist), CBC and the DSCLabel. He holds a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory in Conducting, as a student of Gustav Meier, a Master in Music from the Curtis Institute and a Doctor in Musical Arts from the Juilliard School in Accompanying and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University.
Currently, Benjamin Loeb serves as the Executive Director of Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has served as the Executive Director of the Quad City (Iowa) Symphony Orchestra from 2013 through 2017. He has also served as Executive Director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and as Music Director of the 2011 New Hampshire Music Festival. As Associate Conductor of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, Loeb founded and served as both Executive and Music Director of the El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras – El Paso’s only national-level, NEA-recognized, multiple-orchestra system serving the best young musicians in the El Paso, southern New Mexico and Juarez region. He is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the International Conducting Workshop and Festival, now in its thirteenth year, hosted by orchestras around the world, most recently the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic in Zlin, Czech Republic.
He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife, Quyen, his 14-year-old daughter, Anna Sofia Uni, his 11-year-old, Lulu Ladybug, and 9-year-old son Ryan “Taco”. He continues occasionally to concertize worldwide as pianist, conductor, educator and arts advocate. Loeb’s far-ranging interests do not limit him to music; he has directed plays, cooked gourmet meals for 65, tutored over 500 people in test preparation for the Princeton Review, and played and enjoyed almost every sport. Moreover (or most important), he is a lifetime Dallas Cowboys fan.