Making his mark as a champion for the future of classical music, thanks to his commitment to new music and innovative programming; Julien Benichou is widely recognized for his inspiring musicality, incredibly infectious energy, and creatively fostering the next generation of musicians and audiences. Benichou is the Music Director of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra (MSO), Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO), Southern Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra (SMYOC), and the Principal Conductor of the Washington Opera Society (WOS).
As a guest conductor, Benichou has garnered high acclaim through his work with the New York City Ballet, Annapolis Symphony, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Baltimore Concert Opera, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra collaborations with Mobtown Modern Synchronicity. Abroad, he has conducted the Orquestra Sinfonica do Parana in Brazil, St. Petersburg State Symphony and Siberian State Symphony in Russia, and the Free State Symphony in South Africa. Benichou’s success as a guest conductor has frequently led to return invitations. Next season he will return to the Siberian State Symphony and the Free State Symphony. Additionally, Benichou will return to Carnegie Hall for his 5th year in collaboration with Tim Janis and flutist James Galway.
Now entering his 16th season with the MSO, Benichou has dramatically raised the professional quality of the ensemble, as well as expanding the orchestra’s season and donor base. Through his commitment to working in the community and ability to attract high profile artists, Benichou has developed one of the premier regional orchestras in the greater Baltimore/Washington area. His leadership of the MSO has led to collaborations with Stefan Jackiw, Virgil Boutellis-Taft, Kurt Nikkanen, Brandie Sutton, Vincent Beer-Demander, Leon Fleisher, Kevin Short, Arnaud Sussmann, and Tine Thing Helsen, to name a few.
Benichou has also found great success in conducting operatic productions, served by his keen attention to detail and an ability to bring forth a wealth of expression from singers. In his position as principal conductor of the Washington Opera Society, Benichou recently concluded a production of Carmen at the Maison Francaise in Washington, DC, featuring Lisa Chavez as Carmen and Jonathan Tetelman as Don Jose. Additionally, he has worked extensively with the Morgan State University Choir, leading a fully-staged performance of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, featuring Baritone Lester Lynch and Soprano Leah Hawkins. Later with the same ensemble, he conducted the world premiere of James Lee’s Mother’s Lament.
A composer himself, Benichou is an avid supporter of new music. He has received numerous commissions for theatre, film, and concert music, most recently from the Siberian State Symphony Orchestra. Benichou has also initiated many new commissions. Recently he conducted the world premiere of Lalo Schifrin’s Mandolin Concerto.
Julien Benichou is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of classical music, frequently conducting crossover and pops concerts. He has enjoyed working with the US Army Blues Big Band, the Army Strings, the Irish band Lunasa, and artists Warren Wolf, Mairead Nesbitt, Loreena McKennitt, Sara McLachlan, Matthew Morrison, and HARLOE. In 2017, Benichou premiered āWay of the Rainā at Carnegie Hall, a concert featuring Robert Redford and Vice President Al Gore. Repeat performances are scheduled next season at EarthX in Dallas, TX, and at the Monte-Carlo Opera in the presence of his Highness Albert II, Prince of Monaco.
As an avid advocate for music education, Benichou has worked extensively with the CYSO to bring unmatched experiences to young musicians. He has taken the CYSO on six different European tours through invitations by several prestigious festivals in France, in addition to side-by-side concerts with the Orchestre des Jeunes de MontrĆ©al and the St. Petersburg State Symphony. Under his leadership, the CYSO has performed at Carnegie Hall on numerous occasions.
Benichou received a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Institute and earned a Master’s Degree from Northwestern University. He also pursued graduate studies at Yale University. In masterclasses, he has worked with Leonard Slatkin, Yuri Temirkanov, Marin Alsop, Michael Tilson Thomas, and JoAnn Falletta. His primary teachers have been Victor Yampolsky, Gustav Meier, and Jorma Panula.
Before coming to the United States, he trained in France with Roland Hayrabedian and Pol Mule at the Marseille Conservatory and Jean-SĆ©bastien BĆ©reau at the Rueil-Malmaison Conservatory, as well as privately with Yves Cohen. He also studied harmony and counterpoint with Pierre Doury at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. Benichou became a US Citizen in 2016. When not traveling between conducting engagements, he shares his time between his homes in Baltimore, MD and in the French region of Provence.