Georgian-born conductor Vakhtang Jordania was born in Tbilisi in Soviet Georgia on 9 December 1943. He began piano studies at five, studied at the Tbilisi Conservatory and studied symphonic and opera conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory. He won the 1971 Herbert von Karajan Competition, and held appointments with the Leningrad Radio Orchestra, the Saratov Philharmonic and the Kharkov Philharmonic, touring the former USSR and working with David and Igor Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan, Dmitri Shostakovich, Kiril Kondrashin and Emil Gilels.
In 1983 he defected to the USA with his girlfriend at the time, the violinist Viktoria Mullova. He worked as music director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera (1985-92) and the Spokane Symphony (1991-3), then freelanced, returning to post-communist Russia and making several recordings.
In 2001 he was honoured with a conducting competition bearing his name, held annually in Kharkov, Ukraine.
'I am deeply saddened by Vakhtang's untimely death', stated Robert Bernhardt, music director and conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. 'As the first music director of the combined Symphony and Opera, he brought great leadership, energy and excitement to the CSO, and to our community. He was a wonderful colleague, and I will miss him greatly. I extend my sincerest sympathy to his family and to his legion of friends and admirers everywhere.'
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