Photo by Kate Lemmon

Photo by Kate Lemmon


  • World premiere of Dan Shore’s Freedom Ride at Chicago Opera Theater

  • Full season of Chicago premieres at COT: Jody Talbot’s Everest, Rachmaninoff’s Aleko, and David T. Little’s Soldier Songs

  • World premiere of Paola Prestini’s Edward Tulane at Minnesota Opera

  • World premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Ellen West, with libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Frank Bidart, at Prototype Festival 

  • Glimmerglass Festival debut with Don Giovanni, led by female creative team

  • Orchestral engagements with Chicago Philharmonic and Illinois Philharmonic

  • Refugee Orchestra Project’s UK debut at LSO St Luke’s


  • Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on March 26, 1986

  • Graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Music and Minor in Philosophy

  • Earned MM in Conducting from Boston University

  • Additional studies in French, and German

  • Trained as pianist, vocalist, violinist, and conductor

  • Lives in Chicago with her husband Dan, daughter Artemis, and cat Venus

Refugee Orchestra Project performs at United Nations Photo by Steve Philip

Refugee Orchestra Project performs at United Nations
Photo by Steve Philip


  • Founded the Refugee Orchestra Project, which has been featured in Newsweek, Fast Company, Al Jazeera, and Refinery29, with videos watched by hundreds of thousands around the world

  • Established COT’s Vanguard Initiative to develop new opera

  • Grew Juventas New Music Ensemble from tiny all-volunteer group of composers to a fully professional award-winning organization presenting an opera premiere and several concerts each season

  • Led American premieres of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kashej the Immortal and Symphony No. 1 and Rubinshteyn’s The Demon; American English-language premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegurochka

  • Was the first conductor Lorin Maazel entrusted with his own compositions; on the day Maazel died, led his The Empty Pot for orchestra, chorus, and soloists, for a large audience that included his family

Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors Photo by Karen Almond

Dallas Opera’s Hart Institute for Women Conductors
Photo by Karen Almond


  • 2018 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award

  • 2018 League of American Orchestras Bruno Walter Conducting Preview

  • 2018 World Opera Forum U.S. Representative in Madrid

  • 2017 Opera America Conference Featured Speaker

  • 2015 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Conducting Fellow

  • 2015 Taki Concordia Fellowship for Women Conductors

  • 2015 Dallas Opera Hart Institute for Women Conductors

Photo by Olga Maturana

Photo by Olga Maturana


  • "Yankovskaya conducted with the brio and tenderness this opera demands.” Opera News

  • “With Yankovskaya firmly in control, the orchestra was much more lively and idiomatic than the staging.” Wall Street Journal

  • “Yankovskaya conducted with a sinuous but strong-boned rhythmic mastery, and the production caught both the storybook aspects of the piece and its emotional urgency…Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozartean pastiche is deftly pulled off, and Yankovskaya balanced her forces with confident aplomb.” San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Yankovskaya steered the ship with care and precision.” Boston Globe

  • “An energetic and expressive conducting style… This fine performance was rewarded with a boisterous standing ovation and repeated curtain calls for the conductor.” Arizona Daily Sun

  • “The orchestra, under Yankovskaya’s attentive baton, seethed and suffered right along with Boris.” San Francisco Classical Voice

  • “Yankovskaya led the evening’s most emotionally gripping performance, lovingly textured…” Dallas Morning News

  • “The 64-piece orchestra, under Yankovskaya, gave the overture a raw, blistering, almost hysterical reading, that set the tone for the evening.” Boston Globe

  • “What galvanized the entire production was the high level of the music-making. Yankovskaya is a skillful and incisive musician, and she got an exciting, accomplished performance from her orchestra.” New York Arts

Lidiya with husband Dan and daughter Artemis at the Ravinia Festival

Lidiya with husband Dan and daughter Artemis at the Ravinia Festival


  • Sang in St. Petersburg Children’s Choir of Radio and Television from age 5

  • Began piano studies at age 6 and violin at age 9; in high school was one of only 2 students of pianist duo Vladimir Pleshakov and Elena Winther

  • Was introduced to opera as a small child by her mom; first opera was Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges

  • Began conducting at Guilderland High School in a suburb of Albany, NY – school had 4 orchestras, 5 bands, and 7 choirs

  • In her teens, worked as a floral bouquet designer, lifeguard, sailing and waterskiing instructor, and hiking leader in the Adirondacks

  • Arranged a Damn Yankees song (“You Gotta Have Heart”) for Boston Pops

  • Home is filled with paintings by her late sister Marina, a very accomplished visual artist

  • Often hosts musical salon evenings at her loft, with Lidiya accompanying guests’ renditions of arias, jazz standards, Disney tunes – and once, all of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s “Once More with Feeling”