Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra

Explorations of Humanity

Lidiya Yankovskaya, Conductor
Maximus Gurath, Cello  

Yankovskaya Standby

Stude Concert Hall at Alice Pratt Brown Hall

Standby Tickets $5

View Livestream
Goes live:
7:30pm CT

Fast-rising star conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya leads a program exploring different shades of the human experience, beginning with Jessie Montgomery’s Hymn for Everyone, a meditation on life during the pandemic. 2023 Shepherd School of Music Concerto Competition Winner Maximus Gurath shines in Elgar’s profoundly expressive Cello Concerto, a poignant response to World War I. For Shostakovich, his Fifth Symphony was literally a matter of life and death—already on thin ice with a Soviet regime that regularly “purged” unsuitable artists, a negative review would have been disastrous, and likely fatal. The monumental masterpiece he created achieved the impossible: appeasing authorities, scattering covert moments of defiance, and immortalizing music’s power to speak volumes without a single word.

  • At this time, we are no longer taking reservations for pay-what-you-wish tickets. Instead, we are offering standby tickets to our Explorations of Humanity concert for just $5. 
  • Reserving standby tickets gives you the opportunity to attend this concert by occupying seats that become available the night of the performance (this includes all levels of seats!).
  • Standby seating will occur at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • We cannot guarantee that all members of your party will be seated together.


Jessie Montgomery: Hymn for Everyone

Elgar: Cello Concerto

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5

Stay in your seats after the performance for a short Post-Concert Chat with Shepherd School Dean Matthew Loden and guest artists!


Lidiya Yankovskaya

Lidiya Yankovskaya is a fiercely committed advocate for Slavic masterpieces, operatic rarities, and contemporary works on the leading edge of classical music. She has conducted more than 40 world premieres, including 17 operas, and her strength as a visionary collaborator has guided new perspectives on staged and symphonic repertoire from Carmen and Queen of Spades to Price and Prokofiev. As Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater, her daring performances before and amid the pandemic earned recognition from the Chicago Tribune, which praised her as “the very model of how to survive adversity, and also how to thrive in it,” while naming her Chicagoan of the Year.

Following her debut at Santa Fe Opera in a new production of Dvořák’s Rusalka in summer 2023, Ms. Yankovskaya will conduct orchestras across the United States. She debuts at Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony, and Symphony San Jose. Ms. Yankovskaya deepens her ongoing relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, leading MusicNOW world premieres by Jessie Montgomery and Curtis Stewart, and designing a series of educational concerts. She also returns to Elgin Symphony Orchestra to conduct virtuoso Brandon Patrick George in Ibert’s Flute Concerto. At Chicago Opera Theater, she leads a new Francesca Zambello production of The Nose and David T. Little’s Soldier Songs in the company’s 50th anniversary season.

Maximus Gurath

Maximus Gurath is a junior at the Shepherd School of Music studying cello performance under Professor Brinton Averil Smith. Maximus was a winner of the 2023 Shepherd School of Music Concerto Competition.


Stude Concert Hall at Alice Pratt Brown Hall