Hannah Schneider is an American-born, Russian-raised and trained conductor based in the UK.
Hannah Schneider is assistant conductor of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra (2018-2020) and founder and music director of Oxford Alternative Orchestra, an ensemble dedicated to the intersection of classical music and social impact. She is the initiator of the Oxford Philharmonic’s Side by Side education project, and thrives in conducting the orchestra’s contemporary repertoire. She conducts professionally in Russia, the UK, the United States, and the Ukraine, including engagements in 2019-2020 with the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra, Yakutsk Philharmonic Orchestra, Chelyabinsk Philharmonic Orchestra, Kaluga Young Symphony Orchestra, Smolensk Regional Philharmonic Orchestra, So&So (USA), and Ballet Hartford (USA).
Her natural affinity for contemporary opera led her to spearhead and conduct two Oxford premieres: Steve Reich’s The Cave, and Harrison Birtwistle’s The Corridor. In addition, she has conducted fully-staged versions of La Traviata and Eugene Onegin with her ensemble, Oxford Alternative Orchestra.
With Oxford Alternative Orchestra, Hannah prioritises experimenting with friendly, non-traditional performance spaces to encourage community access. The group has performed in homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, refugees detention centres, and even bars, in addition to traditional concert halls. She encourages unusual programming, including a mix of the classics, new commissions, and some of the great genre-defying composers such as Michael Gordon and David Lang.
Raised in Russia to American parents, she has a passion for Soviet repertoire and the music and stories that germinated behind the iron curtain. She studied violin performance at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory until an injury prompted her to change direction and earn a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Russian literature. She found her way back to music when Valery Gergiev hired her as one of his personal administrative assistants at the Mariinsky Theatre in 2015. Through his mentorship and encouragement as she worked on programming, tours, and festival assisting, she also began to turn her attention to conducting, and started training in St Petersburg with Leonid Korchmar. Gergiev continues to be one of her most important mentors. In addition, she is coached by Karen Kamensek, and has participated in masterclasses with Paavo Järvi.
In 2016, she won a Rhodes Scholarship to attend the University of Oxford, where she is currently finishing her doctorate in Soviet Opera, focusing on the canon of composer Rodion Shchedrin.