Conductor Vladimir Ponkin is one of the leading musicians of Moscow and Russia. His numerous awards include The Medal of Ministry of Arts and Culture of Poland "For the merit in the field of Culture" (1997), Order "For the service to Russia" (2006), "Defender of the Fatherland" Cross (2005) and others.
He was born in Irkutsk. Graduated from Gorky Conservatory and Moscow Conservatory where he studied conducting with Gennady Rozhdestvensky. In 1980 he became a First Prize winner at Rupert Foundation Conducting Competition. Maestro Ponkin headed Yaroslavl Symphony Orchestra, State Symphony Orchestra of Cinematography, Krakow Philharmonic and Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater.
He performed with many prominent soloists: singers Angela Gheorghiu, Jose Сura, Dmitry Hvoroskovsky, Yevgeny Nesterenko, Paata Burchuladze, Zurab Sotkilava, Maria Biyeshu, Yuri Mazurok, Lucia Alberti and Virgilius Noreika, pianists Ivo Pogorelich, Yevgeny Kissin, Grigory Sokolov, Daniel Pollak, Denis Matsuev, Vladimir Krainev, Viktor Yampolsky, Elisso Virsaladze, Edith Chen and Nikolai Petrov, violinists Andrei Korsakov, Sergei Stadler and Oleh Krysa, cellist Natalia Gutman and others.
From 1990 to 2004 Vladimir Ponkin served as Music Director and Principal Conductor of The State Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Philharmony. During that period SSOMP became one of the most sought-after Russian orchestras. SSOMP and Vladimir Ponkin appeared at most prestigious venues of the world and at prominent Russian and European music festivals.
Special place in Mr. Ponkin's life belongs to the opera. In 1996 he was invited to take the position of Principal Conductor of Moscow Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater. His first productions there were The Tale of Tzar Saltan by Rimsky-Korsakov, Othello by Verdi and ballets Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, The Taming of The Shrew by Mikhail Bronner and Shulammite by Valeria Besedina which had a great success.
Since 1999 Ponkin is a Principal Conductor of Helikon Opera in Moscow. His productions there include Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Berg's Lulu, Rimsky-Korsakov's Kashchei the Immortal, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites, Prokofiev's Fallen from the Sky, Giordano's Siberia and others.
In 2002-2006 Vladimir Ponkin was a Principal Conductor of Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Center where he has led the new productions of Rimsky-
Korsakov's Tzar's Bride, Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila, Verdi's Rigoletto, Gounod's Faust and other operas.
Ponkin is not afraid to perform contemporary music. He premiered in Russia works of Lutoslawski and Penderecki. The performance of Krzysztof Penderecki's "The Resurrection" in Stockholm became one of the most outstanding concerts given by Maestro Ponkin. The composer was highly impressed and said that after such a performance he didn't want to conduct the piece himself.
Ponkin brilliantly accompanies the soloists, both singers and instrumentalists. If you ask the Moscow music lovers or soloists who is today's best conductor, many will name Vladimir Ponkin.
Ponkin's discography includes the recordings of world's classics and modern music: works of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Penderecki, Lutoslawski, Denisov and Gubaidulina.
In January 2005 Vladimir Ponkin was appointed artistic director and chief conductor of the National Academic Folk Orchestra of Russia named after N.P.Ossipov. Then he took the position of Principal Conductor of Kuban Symphony Orchestra in Krasnodar.
Vladimir Ponkin has always been active as an educator. He regularly gives concerts for the children and youth. Subscription concerts "I Want to Be a Conductor" enjoy enormous popularity. At these concerts, the conductor enacts the part of a presenter and invites youngsters from the audience to talk about music. The program of the concerts is a fascinating excursion into the realm of Russian and foreign classical music, in which children learn to listen to the music, understand the orchestra and even get a chance to conduct.
Maestro Ponkin is a Professor of Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. He is frequently invited to international master classes in Russia and abroad.