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Conductor Stilian Kirov to remain with BSO through 2026

The show must go on — and it will do so with Stilian Kirov still in charge. The Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra announced Tuesday that its music director has signed a five-year contract to remain with the BSO through 2026.

In sharing the news on Facebook. Kirov wrote that it is "a true privilege and joy to continue working with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra and its brilliant musicians, administration and board!"

Kirov, who is also the music director of the Symphony in C in New Jersey and the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, was chosen from a pool of six finalists, and began his tenure with the BSO in the 2015-16 season after the departure of longtime conductor John Farrer.

"Stilian is a very gifted and accomplished conductor who stands out among his peers," Martin Chalifour, principal concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, said in a news release. "He is a natural musician, and I am thrilled to perform again with him and his orchestra musicians."

Clafour is just one of many world-renowned guest artists who have performed with the orchestra under Kirov, who has been able to draw talent based on his deep connections in the national music world. 

Kirov holds a master's degree from the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, where he studied with Dominique Rouits, and is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music conducting program under the esteemed James DePriest. He has won numerous awards globally and enjoys a worldwide reputation as guest conductor when he's not engaged with the Bakersfield Symphony. The gifted pianist was the gold medalist of the 2001 Claude Kahn International Piano Competition in Paris.

In town, Kirov has many supporters.

"Stilian brings exciting energy, innovative programs and world-class musicianship to the Bakersfield Symphony," BSO concertmaster Julia Haney said in a news release. "It is a great privilege to continue collaborating with Stilian, the BSO musicians and our guest artists to create inspiring and memorable concerts."

"Stilian is truly a gem, and we are incredibly fortunate to have his level of talent here in Bakersfield," Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh said in a news release. "He has made an impact in our community, and I could not be more thrilled to learn he has signed a long-term contract."

The Bakersfield Symphony's 2021-22 season begins Oct. 9 with Bruch and Dvorak, a performance featuring violinist Simone Porter playing Bruch’s "Scottish Fantasy" followed by a journey to the “New World” with Dvorak’s enigmatic Symphony No. 9.

For more information on the symphony or to purchase season tickets, visit