He climbs, dives and conducts: Maxim Eshkenazy

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If you’ve been to a performance at the Orange County Performing Arts Center lately and read the program, you might have come across an article by Christopher Trela about Maxim Eshkenazy, the violinist and new associate conductor of the Pacific Symphony.

In case you missed the article (not available online), know this: Eshkenazy is not your stereotypical musician.


The up-and-coming conductor was born in Bulgaria, trained as a parachutist for the Bulgarian army, moved to California when he was accepted at USC’s Thornton School of Music, conducts in Europe and the U.S., and somehow finds the time to ride a motorcycle, scuba dive, mountain climb, fly planes and paraglide.

On top of that, his boyish good looks once landed him on the cover of the European edition of Elle magazine.

Eshkenazy told Trela, ‘I love anything that flies... I am learning to fly helicopters, which is so much fun. I also love scuba diving because again, it’s that feeling of flight, or no gravity. I also love motorcycles.’

So, how does he find time for his hobbies?

‘I make the time,’ he said. ‘Art is to experience, and I like to experience things. After I experience, I can put it in the music. It kind of broadens my horizons and makes me a better artist.’

In addition to backing up Pacific Symphony music director Carl St.Clair, the 32-year-old Eshkenazy will conduct the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra and will take the baton for the symphony’s Family Musical Mornings, the first of which is this weekend’s Halloween program, Saturday at 10 and 11:30 a.m. in the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

-- Sherry Stern