VALERIE GERGIEVVALERY GERGIEV Since he burst onto the international scene just a few years ago, Valery Gergiev has become one of the most sought after conductors in the world. He is currently the Director of the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg , home to the Kirov Opera and Ballet. Under his leadership, the Kirov Opera has become recognized as one of the great opera companies of the present day. He is also Principal Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Principal Guest Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. He has recently completed a two-week stint conducting the New York Philharmonic which received much critical acclaim. Born in Moscow , Valery Gergiev studied conducting at the Leningrad Conservatoire with the noted teacher Ilya Musin. At the age of 23, he won Berlin 's "Herbert von Karajan Competition". He made his Kirov Opera debut in 1978 with War and Peace and later became assistant conductor to Yuri Temirkanov. In 1988 Gergiev was designated artistic director and principal conductor. In 1996, the Russian government appointed him director of the Mariinsky Theatre. He has appeared with all the leading orchestras of the former Soviet Union and for four years was chief conductor of the Armenian State Orchestra. Gergiev has guest conducted most of the world's major orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw, London's Royal Philharmonic, Rome's Santa Cecilia, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Tokyo's NHK Symphony, and the Berlin Philharmonic. Now, as one of music’s busiest and most sought-after conductors, he is regularly applauded at the podiums of the major opera houses and orchestras of the world. Maestro Gergiev is the organizer of St. Petersburg ’s annual "White Nights Festival," the "Rotterdam Philharmonic/Gergiev Festival," and is director and founder of the Mikkeli International Festival in Finland , the Peace to the Caucasus Festival, and the Red Sea International Music Festival in Eilat , Israel . His recordings on CD and video include: The Maid of Pskov , Khovanshchina, Sadko, War and Peace, The Queen of Spades, Iolanta, Ruslan and Lyudmila, The Fiery Angel, Prince Igor, La Forza del Destino, several orchestral albums and recitals, and the complete ballets Romeo and Juliet and Sleeping Beauty. His most recent releases include The Gambler, Mazeppa, Kashchei the Immortal, Betrothal in a Monastery and Ivan the Terrible. Among Gergiev’s numerous international honors are Musical America’s "Conductor of the Year" award, as well as Russia ’s Dmitri Shostakovich Award, Golden Mask Award, and "People’s Artist of Russia," the Valery Gergiev is one of the foremost international conductors of our time. As well as being one of the most highly sought after artists by the world’s top orchestras and opera houses, he occupies a unique, pre-eminent position in Russia as both the Music Director of the Kirov Opera and the Kirov Ballet and the overall Intendant of the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, the Kirov Companies’ historic home. Valery Gergiev was born in Moscow in 1953, but grew up in the Caucasus, the mountainous area at the Southern end of Russia , stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea . He began his musical studies in Ordzhonikidze , the Caucasian capital of Ossetia , and showed early prodigious talent as a pianist before taking up conducting in his teens. He was accepted into the conducting class of Ilya Musin at the Leningrad (now St Petersburg) Conservatory, and whilst still a student won the All Union Conductors Competition in Moscow and the Herbert von Karajan Conductors Competition in Berlin. In 1977 at the age of just 24 Valery Gergiev was appointed Assistant Conductor to Yuri Temirkanov at the Kirov Opera, where he made his debut conducting Prokofiev’s War and Peace in 1978. Ten years later, in 1988, he became the Kirov ’s Music Director on Yuri Temirkanov’s departure to the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. By then Maestro Gergiev was already attracting attention for some brilliant performances with leading European orchestras. Valery Gergiev’s multifaceted life is a uniquely dynamic and creative force in music today.