LEVI, YOEL (1950– ), Israeli conductor. Born in Romania, Levi grew up in Israel. He studied at the Tel Aviv Academy of Music where he received his M.A. degree with distinction, and at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy under Mendi *Rodan. He also studied in Siena, Rome, and at the Guildhall School in London. He received first prize in the 1978 Conductors' International Competition in Besançon (France). He became an assistant to Lorin *Maazel at the Cleveland Orchestra for six years and served as resident conductor from 1980 to 1984. He made his operatic debut in Florence (1997), after which he conducted operas of Mozart, Bizet, and Janácek. He was music director of the Atlanta Symphony (1988–2000) when it made a critically acclaimed European tour (1991) and was nominated as "Best Orchestra of the Year" (1991–92) by the first annual International Classical Music Awards. Levi was appointed music adviser to the Israel Festival for the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He later served as music director emeritus of the Atlanta Symphony, music artistic advisor to the Flemish Radio Orchestra (from 2001), and principal guest conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (from the 2001–02 season), with which he appeared in a U.S. tour (2004). He regularly appears as guest conductor with renowned orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic. In 1991 he was invited to conduct the Stockholm Philharmonic at the Nobel Prize ceremony. His many recordings with the Atlanta Symphony have won him critical acclaim. Among his recordings are works of Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Mahler, Mussorgsky, Schoenberg, Copland, Shostakovich, and Sibelius. Levi was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts by Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, appointed distinguished visiting professor at the University of Georgia School of Music, and named Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of the most prestigious French awards (2001).
L. Marum, "Keep Your Eye On: Yoel Levi, Conductor," in: Ovation, 5 (May 1984), 54; J. Schwartz, "Uncertainty in Atlanta: When Levi Leaves, What Next?" in: American Record Guide, 60 (1997), 33–4 n. 5.
[Naama Ramot (2nd ed.)]