Thursday, April 26, 2007

Unwilling To Commit To New American Classical Culture, New York Philharmonic Joins National Symphony In Announcing New Principal Conductor Position

"The New York Philharmonic, hunting for a successor to its music director, Lorin Maazel, has decided to divide up its leadership by adding the new position of principal conductor, orchestra officials said yesterday.

In a meeting with the musicians, the Philharmonic’s president, Zarin Mehta, said the orchestra would create other new positions, including composer in residence; director for a mini-festival; and artist in residence, probably a soloist.

“An organization like ours needs somebody who’s there more than a regular musical director,” Mr. Mehta said in an interview later. “We just thought that more than one person would be a better idea from the musical standpoint.”

Most American orchestras have music directors, a sole authority who controls hiring and firing, helps with fund-raising, programs concerts, oversees the hiring of guest conductors and soloists and serves as the public face of the institution. The Philharmonic has generally operated that way for its 165 years.

Under Mr. Mehta’s plan, a music director would serve the usual 12 to 14 weeks on the podium out of a 44-week season, but the principal conductor would come in for another 8 to 10 weeks to increase the presence of an artistic leader, adding a collaborative voice and, potentially, excitement. Mr. Mehta said he knew of no parallel setups [sic]..."

Daniel J. Wakin "Philharmonic to Add a Position at the Top" New York Times April 25, 2007


And while the National Symphony Orchestra's Leonard Slatkin, in his final season with the NSO, continues belatedly to try to begin to build a new American classical orchestral culture [in a city in which public radio, under Sharon Rockefeller's ultimate control, disdains American classical music], the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, next season, will invite to its podium such exciting living composer/conductors as Tan Dun, James MacMillan, Thomas Ades, and HK Gruber [and living composer/violinist Mark O'Conner].

Scene from HK Gruber's contemporary chamber opera, Gloria von Jaxtberg (1992-94), staged in Hamburg, Germany, European Union, in 2004.

"…the non-Aryan curly-haired pig that dreams foolishly of a fairy-tale prince while the butcher sharpens the knife appeared to Gruber to be just what he was waiting for - a tale eminently suitable for a low budget chamber opera format. Herfurtner provided the right swilling text for this pigs’ parable: a libretto supportive of song and sound with dance rhythms, in upper Bavarian metre… epic theatre out of a Brechtian picture book."
-- Die Welt

Photo credit: © Copyright 2006 With thanks.


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