Conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has been something of a conducting prodigy, leading her first choir at age 13 and ascending to the podium at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra while still in her 20s. She was signed to the Deutsche Grammophon label and released her first album in 2019.
Gražinytė-Tyla (Gra-zhi-NEE-teh Tee-LAH) was born Mirga Gražinytė in Vilnius, Lithuania, on April 2, 1986. She later added the "Tyla," meaning "silence" in Lithuanian. Gražinytė-Tyla grew up in a very musical family: her father was a choral conductor, her grandmother a violinist, her great-aunt a composer, and her great-uncle an organist. Both of her siblings have also pursued musical careers. As a child, Gražinytė-Tyla studied art, but at 11 she made the decision to pursue music. Unusually, she entered a conducting program without ever having studied an instrument. Gražinytė-Tyla attended the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria, earning her degree in 2007. She went on for further studies at the Music Conservatory Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in Leipzig and the Zurich Music Conservatory, readily finding posts in both Europe and the U.S. as she completed her training. Several of her early posts were in theater and opera. At the Theater Heidelberg in Germany she was Second Kapellmeister in 2011-2012, she advanced to First Kapellmeister at the Bern Opera in Switzerland in 2013-2014, and became music director of the Salzburger Landestheater the following year. In orchestral music, she held a prestigious Gustavo Dudamel Fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the 2012-2013 season. The following year she became the orchestra's assistant conductor, advancing to associate conductor in 2015. That year she shifted her focus to Britain, guest-conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) and was asked back for a return date in January 2016. She had never been to Britain before her first engagement in Birmingham, but she developed an immediate rapport with the Birmingham musicians. In February 2016, she was named the CBSO's next music director and conducted her first concert in August. She was the orchestra's first female director, but she has stated that the issue of gender was not raised in her discussions with the group. Gražinytė-Tyla's contract was extended through the 2021 season.
In 2019, she released her first album on Deutsche Grammophon, featuring symphonies of Mieczyslaw Weinberg; this was nominated for Grammy award later that year.