"Always meaningful and always generating a coaxing romantic line and intensity... I was also impressed with how patient [Mr. Agrest] was in establishing soft atmospheric textures with suspension and feeling, a trouble spot for many young conductors." Vancouver Classical Music
Scion of the great Russian conducting tradition, Mikhail Agrest has honed his craft at the Mariinsky Theatre for over a decade, acquiring a considerable body of operatic and symphonic repertoire and gaining crucial insights into orchestra development and artistic leadership. Simultaneously, he forged meaningful artistic relationships with a number of the world’s premiere ensembles.
The 2016-2017 season will see further projects with Semperoper Dresden, conducting Weinberger’s Švanda dudák and Verdi's La Traviata. In addition, Mr. Agrest will make his anticipated Canadian debut with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and further European engagements include conducting the Bremer Philharmoniker and Sudwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz, Germany. The triumph of Agrest's La bohème at Finnish National Opera, with whom he has collaborated for numerous seasons, led to an invitation to conduct a new production of Eugene Onegin in 2017. On top of this, an immediate re-engagement invitation to return to Seattle Symphony following his debut with the orchestra last year will feature during the 2016-2017 season.
Mr. Agrest’s appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in 2003 conducting the Mariinsky Theatre in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh sparked keen interest within the global opera community. He went on to lead a production of Tosca at the Swedish National Opera, Don Giovanni at Opera Australia, as well as the award-winning new production of Jenufa at the English National Opera, directed by David Alden.
The following passage from The Herald of Scotland offers a good summary of his reviews by the UK critics: “Agrest conducted a concert that progressed from intriguing to alluring to utterly gripping… the sheer musical tension was riveting. More of Mikhail Agrest, please.” His collaboration with the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden so far consisted of three well-received productions: Le Sacre du Printemps, Les Noces, and Romeo and Juliette. His work with the BBC Symphony dates back to 2007 and includes a Gubaidulina Festival at the Barbican as well as a recording of Rodion Shchedrin’s Concerto Parlando.
Following the success of a Shostakovich, Prokofiev and R. Strauss program with Staatskapelle Dresden in 2013, Mr. Agrest was invited to conduct La Traviata at Semperoper and to lead a new production of Shostakovich’s Moscow-Cheryomushki, directed by Christiane Mielitz. “Nobody left the performance without having a tune stuck in their head,” reported Neue Musikzeitung. Maestro Agrest has been collaborating with Dresdner Philharmonie since 2008, and enjoys repeat invitations from London Philharmonic Orchestra and Seattle Symphony, where his debut was praised by The Seattle times: “[The] program’s real surprise, however, was Agrest’s conducting – a performance of such inspired passion that the players were practically jolted out of their chairs. He conducted like a man possessed, as if lives depended on the outcome, and the energy and commitment of his music-making were positively operatic.”
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Mr. Agrest immigrated to the United States with his family as a teenager and received a degree in violin performance from the Indiana University at Bloomington. He then followed his true passion back to St. Petersburg to study conducting from the legendary Ilya Musin, whose other alumni include Valery Gergiev, Yuri Temirkanov, and Semyon Bychkov.