Russian String Orchestra – Biographies

Season Listing | Program | Biography | Pre-concert Talk

Founded in 1991, the orchestra, comprised of some of Russia’s finest young string players, has carved a niche for itself under the creative baton of its founder and music director Misha Rachlevsky. Whether it is the highly-acclaimed CDs or its mesmerizing concerts, Russian String Orchestra’s warmth and high energy create addictive performances that stay with listeners long after the last note has been played.

About half of nearly 2,000 concerts the orchestra has performed to date have taken place in Moscow, the rest were played on tours in 25 countries in North and South America, Europe and the Far East. The orchestra’s discography of over 30 CDs has received widespread international acclaim.

The signature quality of the orchestra is the depth and variety of its repertoire – over 1000 compositions from early baroque to works written on commission from Misha Rachlevsky and the orchestra by composers from Russia, Europe and the USA.  The orchestra prides itself in offering interesting and often unique programs, both for its home audience, and while on tour.

Misha Rachlevsky

Russian String Orchestra Misha RachlevskyMisha Rachlevsky’s lifetime affinity for chamber music and chamber orchestra repertoire began at the College of the Moscow Conservatory and the Gnessin Academy of Music. Born in Moscow, his violin studies began at the age of five and continued through the well-traveled path of the Russian school of string playing. After leaving the Soviet Union in 1973, he lived and worked in different countries on three continents. In 1976, he settled in the United States, becoming active in the field of chamber music. Mr. Rachlevsky founded the New American Chamber Orchestra (NACO) in 1984, and led it to international prominence, completing nine European tours in four years.

In 1989, Rachlevsky accepted an offer from the city of Granada, Spain – a two-year project under which NACO became the resident orchestra of Granada while, concurrently, Rachlevsky founded and led Granada’s own chamber orchestra. In 1991, Rachlevsky found it impossible to resist an opportunity presented by Claves to record Russian works for this label. When Claves concurred with his suggestion to realize the project with Russian musicians, Rachlevsky called auditions, and Chamber Orchestra Kremlin was created. In 2016, the group changed its name to “Russian String Orchestra,” a better fit. “We well recognize that carrying this name is a tall order, and we are ready to prove our right to it with every concert.”

Yuliya Smead

Yuliya Smead was born in Ternopil, Ukraine in 1971. Yuliya holds a Bachelor in Music Performance from Ternopil Music College, a Master’s Degree and a Doctoral Degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy from Lycenko National Academy of Music in Lviv Ukraine. Yuliya is a two-time winner of Ternopil State Young Talent Competition and a second place winner in Poland. Before coming to the United States, she served as a concertmaster in Lviv State Chamber Orchestra Trembita, which toured extensively in Germany and Poland and a concertmaster of Leopolis Orchestra which performed regularly in France, Belgium, Germany and Poland. Since moving to the United States in 1999, she was named concertmaster of the Oshkosh Symphony in 2001, concertmaster of the Fox Valley Symphony in 2007 and assistant concertmaster of Green Bay Symphony in 2001. She is a member of North Shore Quartet and Fox Valley String Quartet. She was first violin of the Ensemble of Modern Music Cluster in Lviv Ukraine which toured in Latvia, Holland and Ukraine. In addition to performing, Yuliya is on the faculty UW-Oshkosh and Lawrence Academy of Music.