- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2005

Vakhtang Jordania, a Grammy-nominated orchestra conductor, died Oct. 5 at his home in New Market, Va., after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 61.

Born in the Soviet republic of Georgia, Mr. Jordania studied piano from age 5. After graduating from the Tbilisi Conservatory, he studied symphonic and operatic conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory, graduating with honors. A top prize at the 1971 Herbert von Karajan Competition catapulted him to the highest circle of Soviet artistry.

From his assistantship with the legendary Yevgeny Mravinsky until his defection to the United States in 1983, Mr. Jordania held positions as music director of the Leningrad Radio Orchestra, the Saratov Philharmonic and the Kharkov Philharmonic. He conducted the Tchaikovsky Competition twice and conducted more than 100 concerts a year.

Immediately after his defection, Mr. Jordania made his Carnegie Hall debut, a performance described by the New York Times as “confident and spirited… the full house leaped to its feet.”

He held the positions of music director and/or principal guest conductor with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera in Tennessee and the Spokane Symphony in Washington state as well as orchestras in South Korea, Russia and Ukraine.

Mr. Jordania regularly conducted at many prestigious opera houses in Russia, the United States, Ukraine and Korea, including the Bolshoi and Kirov theaters. In the United States, he conducted the North American premiere of Dvorak’s Rusalka and was principal guest conductor of the Kharkov Opera and the Korean American Opera Company.

Three of his compact discs were nominated for Grammy Awards — Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 with the Russian Federal Orchestra, Hovhaness Symphonies Nos. 46 and 39 with KBS Symphony Orchestra, and music of James Cohn with Latvian National Symphony.

In 1999 and 2000, the IBLA International Competition hosted the “Jordania Prize,” designed to further the knowledge of young artists who compete in worldwide competitions. Mr. Jordania was honored in 2001 with the creation of the Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition in Kharkov, Ukraine. Since then it has been an annual event, which attracts contestants from more than 25 nations.

Mr. Jordania’s ashes will be buried Oct. 13 in his native Georgia with his parents.

Mr. Jordania is survived by his wife, Kim; two daughters, Maria of New Market and Nina of St. Petersburg, Russia; and two sons, Dmitri of New Market and Giorgi of Tbilisi.

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