Ilya is Music Director and Co-Founder of the New Budapest Orpheum Society, an ensemble-in-residence at The University of Chicago. NBOS was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium for their album, As Dreams Fall Apart —The Golden Age Of Jewish Stage And Film Music (1925-1955).
In my music I convey the gamut of human emotions, describing the highs and lows of life—the tragedy and the comedy, the hope and dismay—contemplating the majestic beauty of nature as a contrast for the darkest corners of the soul.
Russian-born Ilya Levinson graduated from the Moscow State Conservatory, where he studied composition with Alexander Pirumov and orchestration with Edison Denisov. After immigrating to the United States in 1988, Levinson completed a Ph.D. in Composition at the University of Chicago where his training included instruction from Ralph Shapey, Shulamit Ran, John Eaton, and Howard Sandroff.
Levinson is Assistant Professor at the Music Department of Columbia College Chicago and Music Director and Co-Founder of the New Budapest Orpheum Society, an ensemble-in-residence at The University of Chicago. The group specializes in performing music of the Jewish Cabaret. Their two CD’s: Dancing on the Edge of the Volcano and Jewish Cabaret in Exile are recorded on the Cedille label. Ilya Levinson is composer-in-residence with American Music Festivals, an organization committed to promoting cultural exchange and American music.
Levinson’s catalogue includes operas, musicals, symphonic and chamber music, film scores and original music for theatre productions. His music has been performed by the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra, Yaroslavl Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Sarajevo Philharmonic, CUBE Ensemble, New Music Ensembles of The University of Chicago and Northwestern University, and Duo Montagnard among others. Ilya Levinson was a winner of the 1994 Midwest Composers Competition and recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships in Music Composition in 1997 and 2003.
His “Klezmer Rhapsody” was recorded by the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and released on the Shanachie label. A sought-after orchestrator, Levinson worked on Bockchoy Variations by Evan Chen for the Minnesota Opera; Glass House by Ellen Gould for Northlight Theatre, Skokie, IL; and Voices, a CD by Michael Reily. Levinson’s film credits include additional music for Shtetl (WBGH Frontline); Cleared for Landing (Discovery); and the 1998-2000 fundraising videos for the Jewish United Fund, Chicago. He has also worked for Kartemquin Films, Chicago.
Levinson wrote the article "Kashchey In Blue: The Rimsky-Korsakov-Schillinger-Gershwin Connection," published in the proceedings of the Rimsky-Korsakov and His Heritage in Historical Perspective conference.