RELEASE: Music Director Designate Ankush Kumar Bahl makes long-awaited return to Omaha

Omaha Symphony presents program of unhindered joy and triumph with Sibelius Symphony No. 2

OMAHA, Neb., Feb. 4, 2021—Following a two-year search process, a unanimous decision, and a much-anticipated announcement, Ankush Kumar Bahl returns to Omaha to conduct his first performance as recently named Music Director Designate of the Omaha Symphony. The Maestro takes the podium for his first performance with the ensemble since October 2019 for a celebration of community, live orchestral music and an exciting glimpse into a new era. In the second Masterworks concert of the redesigned centennial season, Bahl will lead the orchestra in a jubilant program featuring Mendelssohn’s unfettered concert overture, “The Hebrides” and Sibelius’ colorful Symphony No. 2 in D Major.

Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 13 and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 14 at the Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall.

“In Maestro Bahl, the Omaha Symphony has found a vibrant leader to shape this new era in the orchestra’s future,” said President & CEO Jennifer Boomgaarden. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have time with the Maestro here in Omaha ahead of his official appointment; we look forward to keeping him busy during his stay as we make plans for the future of the orchestra and celebrate exciting beginnings with this joyous program.”

Bahl was announced Music Director Designate of the Omaha Symphony July 2020; though his last visit to Omaha in March of 2020 was cut short due to the onset of the pandemic, the Maestro returns with stringent health and safety guidelines in place to conduct Sibelius’ beautiful Symphony No. 2 and give audiences the chance to get to know him better.

“I’m thrilled to be returning to Omaha to spend some time with the orchestra and community,” said Bahl. “As challenging as these times have been for the performing arts, I’m beyond proud that the musicians of the Omaha Symphony continue to play at the highest level and am grateful to the orchestra's administration for their hard work in making these concerts possible. I’m heartened in equal measure by the community that has continued to surround its orchestra with support. I can’t wait to see you all and join the musicians in bringing you this incredible music!”

Performance Details:

Saturday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m.

Holland Performing Arts Center Peter Kiewit Concert Hall

Ankush Kumar Bahl, conductor

MENDELSSOHN: “The Hebrides,” Op. 26 ("Fingal's Cave")

SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43

The performance opens with Mendelssohn’s “The Hebrides,” Op. 26 (“Fingal’s Cave”). In Mendelssohn’s time, symphony concerts typically began with an overture from the operatic or stage repertoire, but “The Hebrides” offered a new sort of opener. After his maiden voyage to England, the young German composer captured the music-loving Queen Victoria’s affection; she would continue to invite Mendelssohn for visits, essentially adopting the young composer and commissioning him to fill what many saw as a void of homegrown English music.

After a day of exploration of The Hebrides islands off the coast of Scotland, 20-year-old Mendelssohn dashed home to write a letter to his sister Fanny which contained the opening theme for his work; the melody rolling in and out like the tide of the water against the coastal rocks. His work, which contains what famous musical commentator Sir Donald Tovey called “the greatest melody Mendelssohn ever wrote,” remains one of his most beloved.

Held by the collective of music historians as classical music’s great Scandinavian composer, Sibelius wrote a second symphony that contained a surprising warmth not often attributed to his “northern” music. Many believe this warmth was inspired by trips to the south. It was during his 1901 voyage to Italy that Sibelius began work on his second symphony, right on the heels of what is perhaps his most famous and beloved fixture of northern European musical pride, “Finlandia.” A less extroverted work than the one preceding it, Sibelius described his second symphony as “a confession of the soul.”

The warmth of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 can’t be completely attributed to Italy, though; the work was ultimately finished back home, bringing both his native northern European sensibilities to the adopted ones from his ventures to Italy, his two most favorite places in the world. A highly sectionalized work in four movements, the second symphony begins quietly with a three-note string figure from which a slow-to-emerge woodwind melody unfurls into a sweeping adventure. It then moves into a lyrical and melancholy second movement, continues with a pastoral third, and ends in a triumphant and bright finale.

About Ankush Kumar Bahl

Indian-American conductor Ankush Kumar Bahl is recognized today by orchestras and audiences alike for his impressive conducting technique, thoughtful interpretations and engaging podium presence. In concert, he has left The Washington Post “wanting to hear more” and has been praised by The New York Times for his “clear authority and enthusiasm” and ability to “inspire.” His recent and future guest conducting highlights include core classical repertoire performances with the New York Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, as well as return engagements with the Richmond Symphony, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. (among others).

Bahl is a proud recipient of four separate Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards between 2011 to 2016 and of the 2009 Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholarship (Leipzig). A protégé of former New York Philharmonic Music Director Kurt Masur, Bahl served as his assistant conductor at the Orchestre National de France, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. In addition, Bahl has been fortunate to count Maestros Jaap van Zweden, Zdenek Macal, Christoph Eschenbach, David Zinman and Gianandrea Noseda among his mentors.

Ankush Kumar Bahl is Music Director Designate at the Omaha Symphony. He will begin his tenure as Music Director effective July 2021. Bahl is excited to bring his artistic vision to Omaha, where he will continue the symphony's legacy of musical excellence.

Ticketing Information

Tickets for Bahl Conducts Mendelssohn & Sibelius start at $20. Tickets can be purchased by visiting, through the Ticket Omaha app, or by calling Ticket Omaha at 402.345.0606. Performance dates are subject to change. In the event of performance changes or cancellations, the Omaha Symphony will email ticket holders to inform them of new dates and ticketing options. Patrons with questions may email The Omaha Symphony also regularly posts performance updates at, along with the Omaha Symphony’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Patrons can sign up for the latest updates at

Public Health Information

Performances at the Holland Performing Arts Center feature physically distanced seating and will only be seated at a maximum of 30 percent capacity. All patrons will be required to complete a health screening questionnaire prior to accessing their mobile tickets via the Ticket Omaha app. Masks are required at indoor Omaha Symphony performances. The following changes have been implemented within the venue:

  • Enhanced Cleaning & Sanitation - Electrostatic technology disinfecting large common areas, enhanced sanitizing of high touch surfaces with hospital grade disinfectant and hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue
  • Heating and Cooling System – Upgrades to air handling units includes bipolar ionization filtering out viruses through ventilation
  • Staff Precautions – Staff and volunteers are required to complete a health screening upon entrance to the building, wear face masks and receive temperature checks.
  • Touchless Experience – Tickets are accessible via the Ticket Omaha app. Tickets can also be printed at Will Call. Program notes will be delivered digitally.

Find the most up to date public health information at

This performance is sponsored by Omaha Steaks.

The Omaha Symphony is a non-profit organization that presents more than 100 live orchestral performances from September through June. In addition to Masterworks, Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, Movies, Symphony Joslyn, and Family series concerts, the Omaha Symphony’s nationally recognized education and community engagement programs touch the lives of more than 40,000 people each year. For tickets or information regarding the Omaha Symphony, call 402-345-0606 or visit Programs, artists, dates, times, prices, and availability are subject to change.

Find high resolutions photos of Ankush Kumar Bahl here: