Vladimir Ponkin, currently artistic director and chief conductor of the Helikon Opera Theatre in Moscow, and chief conductor of the Kuban Symphony Orchestra, is one of Russia's leading conductors. His refined conducting style is distinguished by his delicate elaboration of details as well as his deep understanding of musical form and its realization. Versatile and mindful of the composer’s intentions, Ponkin gracefully integrates his exquisite technique and intellect into performances of a broad range of repertoire.
Ponkin, born in Irkutsk in 1951, graduated from the Gorky Conservatory and later from the Moscow Conservatory where he completed a postgraduate course in opera and symphonic conducting mentored by Gennady Rozhdestvensky. In 1980 he became the first young conductor in the Soviet Union to win the 5th Rupert Foundation Conducting Competition in London. Over the years, he was the chief conductor of the following orchestras: the Yaroslavl Symphony Orchestra, the State Symphony Orchestra of Cinematography, the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra, and Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.
Between 1990 and 2004, Vladimir Ponkin worked extensively with Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. During these years the orchestra became very popular, both in Russia and abroad, performing at the most well-renowned concert halls and international festivals in Russia and Europe. In the summer of 1996, Ponkin and this orchestra participated in the 42nd Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago. During the opera festival, he conducted two symphony concerts of Russian and French music. The Italian press wrote: «Ponkin’s diverse interpretations of composers from different historical eras and styles significantly raised the festival's emotional temperature…» (La Nazione, Viareggio)
Ponkin was a regular guest at a number of international festivals including the Lutosławski Festival in Moscow and the international festivals of Pärt and Penderecki in Stockholm. He shows a keen interest in performing contemporary repertoire. In Russia he premiered many compositions by Lutoslawski and Penderecki. Penderecki’s Utrenja for soloists, chorus and orchestra, which was performed during a concert in Stockholm as part of a festival dedicated to the composer, was also highly praised by the composer himself. As guest conductor, Vladimir Ponkin has worked with leading international orchestras such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia, “Svetlanov Orchestra”, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bergamo Festival Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Brisbane, and the Palm Beach Orchestra among others. He performs regularly with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.
Vladimir Ponkin successfully toured throughout Europe, Asia, South and North America, and Australia. He worked with artists such as Angela Gheorghiu, José Cura, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Evgeny Nesterenko, Paata Burchuladze, Zurab Sotkilava, Maria Bieșu, Yuri Mazurok, Lucia Aliberti, Virgilius Noreika, Ivo Pogorelich, Evgeny Kissin, Grigory Sokolov, Daniel Pollack, Denis Matsuev, Eliso Virsaladze, Edith Chen, Nikolay Petrov, Alexander Ghindin, Andrei Korsakov, Sergei Stadler, Oleh Krysa, and Natalia Gutman