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Recently in Conductors Category

Sir Charles Mackerras Obituary

Charles Mackerras

Conductor Charles Mackerras dies

Australian conductor known as an authority
on Czech music and Mozart dies in London, aged 84

By Matthew Weaver

The Australian conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, who led the opening concert at the Sydney Opera House and was the first non-Briton to lead the Last night of the Proms, has died in London at the age of 84.

He had cancer but was as due to conduct two concerts at the Albert Hall at the end of this month as part of the BBC proms which start tomorrow.

In a long career he conducted some of the world's leading orchestras and was the former director of music at English National Opera. He grew up in Australia but spent much of his working life in Britain after emigrating here in 1947.

Read more about this at the Guardian website:

Dudamel to Take Over from Salonen

Gustavo Dudamel

Dudamel's baton entices a new wave of classical music lovers

By Roxana Popescu
San Diego Union Tribune

The high-energy Gustavo Dudamel will replace Esa-Pekka Salonen as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic next year.

The hardest part about preparing for a 10-minute telephone interview with Gustavo Dudamel is figuring out what to do with all that energy.

Not with it, actually, but without it: What if his legendary pep didn't come across in a chat crammed between six other interviews? What if he was worn out, or distracted? Because if there's one thing that pops out from all of Dudamel's five-star YouTube clips ? the one attribute both fans and skeptics say defines him ? it's that indomitable energy.

The second hardest part was getting a hold of the man. At 27, Dudamel is arguably the greatest conductor of his generation, considered by many to represent the future of classical music and the hope for its reinvigoration. This fall, he's on a national tour with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which the La Jolla Music Society presents at the Civic Theatre tomorrow. Next spring, he'll take over as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Read more about this at the Union-Tribune website:

Rozhdestvensky Upset with BSO


Miffed at BSO, famed maestro backs out

By Jeremy Eichler
Boston Globe

There is an eminent Russian conductor encamped at a private home in Brookline, and he is fuming.

In an extremely rare public flare-up in the outwardly genteel world of major symphony orchestras, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, the 77-year-old maestro who is one of the last living links to a golden era of Russian music, has pulled out of the entire run of four concerts he was scheduled to conduct with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which began on Thursday.

He is outraged, he said yesterday, at how disrespectfully, in his view, the BSO administration had marketed his appearances to the public.

In an emotional 40-minute interview at the home of a friend, Rozhdestvensky and his wife, Viktoria Postnikova, explained the maestro's abrupt decision to withdraw from the performances, including concerts scheduled for tonight and Tuesday, and to return today to Moscow. He began with a pointed clarification.

"The BSO told its audiences I was 'unable to conduct this performance as planned,' " he said, referring to an announcement that appeared in a program insert and on the BSO's website. "I must say that I was able to conduct." Full stop. "And how."

Read more about this at the Boston Globe website:

Vernon Handley Obituary

Vernon Handley by Toby Wales

Vernon Handley

Conductor who ignored orchestral fashions in order to champion British composers, and was adored by musicians.

The Telegraph
8:17PM BST 10 Sep 2008

Vernon Handley, who died yesterday aged 77, was one of the best-loved of conductors and a great champion of British orchestral music; a protégé of Sir Adrian Boult, he was renowned for holding fast to two principles – an undemonstrative technique and an unfashionable repertoire.

While he was by no means alone in promoting the underdogs of British music, no one did more than 'Tod' Handley to bring them to the attention of the mainstream. His aim was to include at least one British work in all his concerts. Nevertheless, he would acknowledge that "One man can't put it right," adding: "But I've done as much as I could, and I'm going to keep trying."

Read more about this at the Telegraph website:

Would You Like A Little Wobble With That?

Roger Norrington

Vibrato wars whip up a musical storm over last night of the Proms

Voices are raised in anger after a famous conductor decides to give a controversial performance of Elgar's classic crowd-pleaser

By Amelia Hill & David Smith
The Observer

When this year's BBC Proms climax with the traditional chorus of Elgar's 'Land of Hope and Glory', prommers expecting the traditional rousing sing-along could feel distinctly disappointed. For the first time in the Proms' 113-year history, the march – also known as Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 – is likely to be played without vibrato, an obscure and extreme performance style that lends an icy tone to music and divides classical music fans into opposing camps.

Vibrato, a musical effect produced by a regular pulsating change of pitch, is used to add expression and vocal-like qualities to instrumental music. On string instruments, the effect is created by the controlled vibration of the finger holding down the string.

'If the orchestra agree, as I hope and think they will, to my suggestion that we play one of Britain's most patriotic pieces as its composer intended, then the last night of the Proms will sound strikingly different to ever before,' said Sir Roger Norrington, one of Europe's leading conductors and founder of the London Classical Players.

Read more about this at the The Observer website:

More Adventurous Programs Please

Thomas W. Morris by Fred Rothenberg

Adventures in Concert Programming

By Anthony Tommasini
New York Times

Thomas W. Morris, a former executive director of the Cleveland Orchestra and now a consultant to orchestras, is hardly naïve about the tradition-bound field of classical music. He realizes that conductors of American orchestras face many pressures to play it safe in choosing programs.

Still, it exasperates him that so many conductors seem so wary of taking chances with unconventional or challenging programs.

"When I'm on a consulting project and I encounter a boring program," he said in a telephone interview, "inevitably I'm told, 'The marketing department made us do it.'" But to him hewing to the timeworn three-part program (an overture, a concerto, a popular symphony) makes as little sense financially as it does artistically.

Read more about this at the New York Times website:

Leonard Slatkin, by Steve J Sherman

Conductor Comes to A Coda

NSO's Leonard Slatkin Leaves on a Note of Regret

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post

Leonard Slatkin is temperamentally nervous. When he takes the stage to conduct, he walks out rapidly, slightly hunched, his head thrust forward, as if moving through a gauntlet and trying to protect himself from the needling arrows of thousands of watching eyes. In person, in his office at the Kennedy Center, he sits back in a pose of assumed relaxation, his soft Muppet face marked with thick white eyebrows and a sharp line of a mouth, and chats.

But he skitters across topics, anticipating the criticism that may be lurking behind every question, mentioning it, steering away from it, then returning to it to show that he is not steering away from it, until one is left with the impression that outside criticism, despite his protests to the contrary, matters to him very much indeed.

The general impression is that conducting is a difficult metier for a man who describes himself as having been chronically shy in his youth. The particular impression, as Slatkin talks about his 12-year tenure at the head of the National Symphony Orchestra, is of encountering someone in the final throes of a failing marriage, going over ground that has been trodden many times before, prodding the scars of old wounds that still have a tired ache.

Read more about this at the Washington Post website:

Music directors' salaries are definitely on the upswing

By Charles Storch
Chicago Tribune

At events scheduled here Monday, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is to officially introduce Riccardo Muti as its music director-designate. Should Muti be asked why he chose to commit here instead of, say, New York, it's likely he will cite the chance to lead our world-class orchestra and reside in our congenial city.

Don't expect him or the CSO to reveal how much he will be paid when he begins a five-year term as music director in September 2010.

Most symphony orchestras are loath to reveal up-to-date compensation (pay and benefits) for top executives and contractors. Like other U.S. not-for-profits, it can expect two or more years to pass before its tax filings, containing pay details, are readily accessible…

Read more about this at the Chicago Tribune website:,0,6092832.story

New Music from Osmo Vänskä


Vänskä sets down the baton and takes up the pen

The famed music conductor makes his second foray into the world of composition with a nine-minute work that reflects the 35W bridge collapse.

By Graydon Royce

Osmo Vänskä, composer, has struck again. The music director of the Minnesota Orchestra has knocked out a new work titled "Bridges" that will have its premiere on Sunday with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. The nine-minute piece was inspired by the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge last summer.

Bill Schrickel, principal bass with the Minnesota Orchestra and conductor of the Metropolitan Symphony, had been nagging Vänskä to write something since 2006, when the Minnesota Orchestra performed his composition "Here!...Beyond?"

Read more about this at the Star Tribune website:

Riccardo Muti

Muti to be Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director

By F.N. d'Alessio (AP)
San Jose Mercury News

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association named maestro Riccardo Muti on Monday as the next music director of the CSO, the 10th conductor to hold the prestigious post.

CSO Association President Deborah Card announced that Muti, 66, had signed a five-year contract to serve as music director beginning in September of the 2010-2011 season. The post has been vacant since Daniel Barenboim retired in 2006.

Under the terms of the contract, Muti will conduct a minimum of 10 weeks of CSO subscription concerts each season, plus lead the orchestra in domestic and international tours.

Read more about this at the San Jose Mercury News website: