During Yaniv Segal’s Salina tenure, he will be able to accept other engagements and already has been booked in Illinois and Minnesota.
Composer-conductor Yaniv Segal is about to bring Michigan-strengthened creativity to Kansas as he takes on the responsibilities of music director and conductor for the Salina Symphony.
Segal, formally beginning his five-year term in July and dividing his home base between Ann Arbor and Salina, already has begun meeting with members of the orchestra, administrative staff and community supporters. His 2022-23 opening program in October will feature a new work, Earthrise, by Patrick Harlin, resident composer of the Lansing Symphony.
“It’s great to have this position as a music director of a regional orchestra and be involved with programming, community and fundraising while working with guest soloists and getting to do the pieces I think are important to share,” he said.
“The Salina Symphony has six mainstage concerts a season plus special events, educational programs and a summer outdoor concert at the Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum in Abilene, not far from Salina.
“Because we don’t have concerts every week, each event in its way is more special and enough of a spread across the season to program something for everybody.”
Segal, 41, whose last appearances in Michigan were in 2020 before the pandemic isolation, worked with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. During his Salina tenure, he will be able to accept other engagements and already has been booked in Illinois and Minnesota.
“I felt Earthrise was the perfect piece to start off my tenure because it has to do with looking down at the Earth and watching the sun rise,” said Segal, who was in competition with more than 100 applicants whittled down to five in performance auditions.
“We’re also doing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor with a phenomenal soloist, violinist Maria Ioudenitch. I picked this piece because I conducted the Sibelius Fifth Symphony for my orchestra audition last January and wanted to connect the dots.
“For the second half of the program, we have one of the most epic masterworks in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. It’s about this journey from darkness to light, and it ties in really well with Earthrise and being reborn.”
There have been many regenerations in Segal’s career. Raised in New York as the son of retired violinist Hanna Lachert and violin maker David Segal, he has sung with the Metropolitan Opera, acted in Broadway and internationally touring productions, performed on violin and made recordings of his own compositions.
In 2008, when he decided conducting would be his concentration, he took advanced studies at the University of Michigan after studying violin at Vassar College.
“I realized conducting allowed me to fulfill my dreams of performance with the greatest possible palette of colors: all those instruments and people working together to bring the most beautiful compositions to life,” said Segal, whose orchestral experiences have reached from in-person appearances with the Naples Philharmonic to recordings with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Segal, who learned Hebrew from his Israeli-raised dad and Polish from his mom before speaking English, is planning a program relevant to the immigration experiences of his parents.
“One of the upcoming concerts I’m really excited about is in January,” he said. “It has a piece called Ellis Island: The Dream of America, which is a work for seven narrators reading text of immigrants who came to America to escape pogroms, look for work, pursue artistic freedom or join family who came here earlier. The stories are incredibly poignant.”
With experience as interim conductor of the Grand Rapids Youth Orchestra and the father of two young boys, he is pleased about the recent release of a recording he conducted to present the children’s opera The Mice War by New York composer David Chesky.
“The Mice War is an opera he wrote for chamber orchestra and singers to tell the story of mice going to war over the color of cheese,” he said. “After we recorded the score, David ended up getting it created as an animated film.
“In light of what’s going on in Ukraine and so many other parts of the world, it’s now available on Amazon for streaming. It is jazzy, and the cartoons are engaging for the kids. They hopefully learn the lesson that war is folly.”
An earlier album with Chesky, Joy & Sorrow, expresses the happiness and sadness experienced by the Jewish people. A current project with his own composing elaborates on the music he wrote for the celebration of his marriage to physician Joanna Spencer-Segal.
“In October, we’re doing this piece that I’m still finishing,” he said. “As I was writing, I was intending it to be orchestrated one day. During the pandemic, when performances stopped, I started to craft it into a symphonic work. I finished three of the movements, and I’m working on the final two.”
Besides enjoying the opportunities in his new role, Segal looks forward to having opportunities for new family experiences when they are able to join him during extended periods in Salina.