Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dutoit to lead Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra announced this morning that Charles Dutoit will become chief conductor and artistic advisor for a four-season term beginning in September 2008.
Dutoit succeeds Christoph Eschenbach, whose five-year tenure was one of the shortest in the orchestra’s history. The appointment, which is a newly created position, is meant as an interim measure while the orchestra’s board undertakes a search for a new music director. According to a press release announcing Dutoit’s appointment, “The Philadelphia Orchestra Association plans to formalise a process for its music director selection this summer and will announce further plans at that time.”
Dutoit is very familiar with these players: he has been music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s summer residency in Saratoga for the past 15 years, and was artistic director of its summer concert series at Philadelphia’s Mann Center from 1989 to 1999. He is also a frequent guest conductor with the orchestra during its regular season.
As the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper observed in their own report this morning, however, the conductor’s history with this orchestra has not always been easy. “Dutoit was passed over twice for the job of music director,” noted the newspaper, “and ended his decade as director of the Mann Center in 1999 by publicly handing in his resignation to the audience before a performance of Orff’s Carmina Burana.” The newspaper also reported that the new appointment was made without the knowledge of the full roster of Philadelphia Orchestra musicians, although the Philadelphia Orchestra Members’ Committee released their own statement last night supporting the board’s choice.
In this new role, Dutoit will lead the orchestra in no more than eight weeks of performances in Philadelphia, and conduct them at Carnegie Hall and on tour. He will also continue to lead the orchestra during their annual three-week summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in New York, and “will have the option to lead concerts” when the orchestra is in residence at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado.

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