Sophisticated West German audiences can be counted on to give a cool reception to an unknown conductor, especially one who takes the helm of their own Berlin Philharmonic, often described as the world’s finest orchestra. So when unheralded Semyon Bychkov won a tumultuous 20-minute standing ovation after a performance last year, it was music world news. “It was the moment of a lifetime,” says Bychkov.
The reception in West Berlin was mild compared with the one Bychkov received when he made his Carnegie Hall debut in New York in February, conducting his own highly regarded Buffalo Philharmonic. The New York Times described it as “a musical event tinged with greatness.” At 33, Bychkov has been director of the Buffalo Philharmonic for a year, but he has been gaining an international audience as well, conducting such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
A brilliant student of conducting at the Leningrad Conservatory in his native Russia, Bychkov emigrated to the U.S. in 1975. He brought his wife, Tanya, as well as his mother and brother, but his father, a physicist, remains in the U.S.S.R. Bychkov may be the world’s next great conductor, but he’d better not get complacent. Younger brother Yakov recently won a competition in conducting, fittingly enough, at Carnegie Hall. When six unknown Flint, Mich, high school boys who called themselves Ready for the World cut a record that went gold and signed a $1 million contract, they were guided by the most unusual legal team in entertainment. Pulling the strings for the group were Leona and Leonia Lloyd, Detroit-based law partners who are identical twins. “Promoters said we were up against men in an industry whose only contact with women was ‘Honey, get me a cup of coffee,’ ” says Leonia (right), 36, the younger by three minutes.
Four years after hanging out their shingle, Lloyd & Lloyd has more business than it can handle. The client list now includes former Temptations David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks. The twins, who grew up in Detroit, were toiling at separate law firms when they decided to become partners. Their first client was a local disc jockey whom Leona had represented at her former firm. Today their practice is 90 percent entertainment, but they also do divorce, probate and malpractice work.
Named in honor of their father, Leon, an auto mechanic, the twins modeled as teens, taught school and got their law degrees from Wayne State University the same year. Leona, the flashier of the pair, is single and shares an apartment and a car with her divorced sister. “We’ve been twins all our lives,” says Leona. “We take it for granted, but in the business we’re in, it helps. It’s a novelty.”