Saturday, April 20, 2024

Karina Canellakis at San Francisco Symphony


Davies Symphony Hall
Photo by Lisa Hirsch


Karina Canellakis is back at San Francisco Symphony this week, leading a program of Richard Strauss and Maurice Ravel, to wit: Don Juan, Ravel's piano concerto for the left hand, Death and Transfiguration (Tod und Verklärung), and La Valse.

This isn't anything like a full review. I am unusually run down at the moment, owing to the approaching end of an enormous project at work, and I am extremely glad I wasn't reviewing this program. Okay, if I had been taking notes, I could write a full and fair review, but as it is, what I can most usefully present is a high-level overview of what I heard. 

I think that this was Canellakis's third appearance with SFS. Her first program included Shostakovich's enormous–and not very good– Leningrad Symphony. Her second included a moody Lili Boulanger bonbon, Strauss's Don Quixote, and the Lutoslawski Concerto for Orchestra (a great piece). I reviewed that program; links and additional commentary in this blog post.

What I heard last night confirms what I'd heard previously, which I summarized as follows in the blog post:
With Canellakis, there was an absence of musical layering that blunted the potential effects of the works and made them too much of the same thing. I definitely did a mental compare-and-contrast with Esa-Pekka Salonen, whose conducting always has much more nuance than I heard last week. Well, except for that Strauss thing.
At the intermission, my partner commented to me that the piano concerto had "too many ingredients." And I replied "Blame the conductor, who failed to make the parts sound like a coherent whole." This is not an issue that I've heard from other conductors in Ravel, and I'll name Salonen, MTT, and Ludovic Morlot as exemplars.

But my thoughts about Canellakis and her particular sound world go beyond that: I don't see that she has a coherent conception of orchestral sound. I heard a lot of instruments playing last night, but in general they weren't blended or balanced in a way that created a coherent sound world for either Strauss or Ravel.

Now, part of last night's programming concept was to put together somewhat militaristic works to show a relationship between the composers, and that it did. Still, the two Strauss works are from 1889, early in his long, long career, and the two Ravel works are from decades later. One is German, the other is French; they were both masters but so very different.

I continue to think that in general Canellakis's conducting results in performances that are too loud.  But my current thinking goes beyond that. I think her ear for orchestration, balance, and sheer sound just isn't very good. We've been hearing Salonen regularly for a few years now, and I am always struck by what a great ear he has. Almost everything he has conducted–except for that Strauss thing–has been a marvel of subtlety and balance.

The same is true of many of our guest conductors. I have great memories of how beautiful the orchestra sounded a decade ago when Herbert Blomstedt conducted a concert of the Schubert "Great" C major symphony and the Nielsen clarinet concerto; the orchestra positively glowed in the Schubert. MTT has worked marvels of sound over a very, very long period. Nathalie Stutzmann's program a couple of years back drew a gorgeously rich, dark sound from the orchestra. Dalia Stasevska's two programs were brilliant in every way, including sonically. 

This is one area where I hear Canellakis as seriously lacking. I would be interested in hearing her in, say, early-to-mid-19th c. German standard repertory, Debussy, and Stravinsky, to get more of a sense of her range. I mean, I don't think that Stravinsky would sound much different in her hands from what I've noted above, but who knows?

Speaking of Debussy–this isn't a total digression–I liked Cédric Tiberghien a lot in the Ravel. I thought he got a very nice range of color out of the piano, as well as variety of mood. And his encore was an exquisite performance of Debussy's La Cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral).

  • Joshua Kosman, SF Chronicle. Let me second him on the excellence of Wyatt Underhill and especially flutist Blair Francis Paponiu, who sounded great throughout the program.
  • Michael Zwiebach, SFCV (link to follow)
 

Even More Music Director Updates

The latest news:
  • Kedrick Armstrong succeeds the late Michael Morgan as music director of the Oakland Symphony. He has a particular interest in women composers. He remembers himself as a "queer Black kid." (Morgan would have said something similar.) Read all about Kedrick Armstrong:
  • James Conlon will step down from the LA Opera at the end of the 2025-26 season, which will be his 20th as music director there. I hope he gets a well-funded final season. If it were all Recovered Voices, I'd be happy.
  • Jonathan Nott steps down from the Tokyo Symphony in March, 2026, when his twelve-year contract expires. From the slightly ambiguous press release: "The Orchestra feel though that by the time they have reached the end of the 12th season of their collaboration they will be ready for the next chapter in their long history and are excited by the prospect of a new challenge with a new music director."

Open positions:

  • Tokyo Symphony, in March 2026
  • LA. Opera, at the end of 2025-26
  • San Francisco Symphony
  • Phoenix Symphony
  • Cleveland Orchestra, as of June, 2027.
  • Lahti Symphony, when Dalia Stasevka leaves.
  • Antwerp Symphony, with the departure in 2025 of Elim Chan.
  • Paris Opera is currently without a music director.
  • Nashville Symphony, when Giancarlo Guerrero leaves.
  • Deutsche Oper Berlin, when Donald Runnicles leaves.
  • Rottedam Philharmonic, when Lahav Shani leaves.
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic, as of 2026-27, when Gustavo Dudamel leaves for NY.
  • Sarasota Orchestra, following the death of Bramwell Tovey.
  • Seattle Symphony, following Thomas Dausgaard's abrupt departure in January, 2022.
  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra: open in 2024 when Louis Langree steps down.
  • Hong Kong Philharmonic, when Jaap van Zweden leaves in 2024.
  • Teatro Regio Turin: Open now with departure of Gianandrea Noseda. The Teatro Regio has not named a new music director.
  • Marin Symphony, at the end of 2022-23.
  • Vienna Staatsoper, when Philippe Jordan leaves at the end of 2025.
Conductors looking for jobs (that is, as of the near future, or now, they do not have a posting). The big mystery, to me, is why an orchestra hasn't snapped up Susanna Mälkki. Slightly lesser mystery: Henrik Nanasi, whose superb Cosi fan tutte is still lingering in my ears.
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen, if he wants such a position again
  • James Conlon, if he wants such a position again.
  • Jonathan Nott
  • Dalia Stasevska
  • Elim Chan
  • Kirill Karabits
  • Tito Muñoz 
  • Andrey Boreyko
  • Osmo Vänskä
  • Susanna Mälkki, who left the Helsinki Philharmonic at the end of 2022-23.
  • MGT (apparently does not want a full-time job, as of early 2022)
  • Miguel Harth-Bedoya (seems settled in at Baylor)
  • Sian Edwards
  • Ingo Metzmacher
  • Jac van Steen
  • Ilan Volkov
  • Aleksandr Markovic
  • Lothar Koenigs
  • Henrik Nanasi
  • Philippe Jordan, eventually
  • Franz Welser-Möst, if he wants such a job
And closed:

  • Oakland Symphony, where Kedrick Armstrong succeeds the late Michael Morgan.
  • Minnesota Opera: closed with the appointment of Christopher Franklin.
  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra gets to share Klaus Mäkelä with the Concertgebouw.
  • The Hallé Orchestra's next conductor will be Kahchun Wong.
  • Marin Alsop becomes principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, I believe succeeding Nathalie Stutzmann.
  • Simon Rattle becomes principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharonic.
  • John Storgards will becomes chief conductor of the Turku Philharmonic.
  • Update and correction: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra was unable to hire Cosette Justo Valdés. Instead, Jory Fankuchen, a violinist in the orchestra, has been named Principal Conductor and will lead this season's programs.
  • Indianapolis Symphony hires Jun Markel, effective September 1, 2024.
  • Andris Nelsons renewed his contract with the Boston Symphony. He's now on an evergreen rolling contract, which will continue as long as he and the orchestra are happy with each other. MTT had one of these at SFS.
  • Shanghai Symphony, with the appointment of Long Yu.
  • Virginia Symphony, with the appointment of Eric Jacobsen.
  • Warsaw Philharmonic, with the appointment of Krzysztof Urbański.
  • Bern Symphony, with the appointment of Krzysztof Urbański.
  • Berlin State Opera, with the appointment of Christian Thielemann.
  • Dresden Philharmonic, with the appointment of Donald Runnicles.
  • New York Philharmonic, with the appointment of Gustavo Dudamel. Note that Jaap van Zweden leaves in 2024 and there will be a two-season gap before Dudamel arrives.
  • Helsinki Philharmonic: Jukka-Pekka Saraste to succeed Susanna Mälkki.
  • Staatskapelle Dresden, with the appointment of Daniele Gatti.
  • Seoul Philharmonic appoints Jaap van Zweden.
  • Royal Opera appoints Jakub Hrůša to succeed Antonio Pappano in September, 2025.

More on "Elitist Pop Culture"

Alex Ross has a post today about the notion of elitist pop culture, in which he quotes an article by Mark Swed this week and himself in 2014. Let me add a bit to the discourse: in 2006, I wrote about the cost of classical music and opera tickets for San Francisco Classical Voice. The article is gone from the SFCV web site, lost in a bad data migration, but the unedited version lives on at this blog. I quote (and when you read this bear in mind that these are 2006 prices):

But what kinds of ticket prices result from these expenses? Here are some representative single-ticket prices for different organizations (subscriptions usually result in a lower per-ticket cost):

  • Soli Deo Gloria is $18 general admission or $13 senior/student in advance, with students from K-8th grade free.
  • California Bach Society charges $25 general admission, $18 senior, $10 student
  • Berkeley Opera tickets are $40 general/senior, $15 youth/disabled
  • Philharmonia Baroque charges from $28 to $62
  • San Francisco Symphony tickets cost $20 to $107 at Davies, $29-55 at the Flint Center
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic seats cost $20 to $89 for their most recent visit to Davies, but $15 to $129 at home in Disney Hall
  • San Francisco Ballet tickets are $10 to $199
  • San Francisco Opera tickets range from $25 to $215

Are these prices unreasonable, given the cost of putting on these events? It might depend on what you compare the prices to. They’re undeniably higher than renting a DVD ($3) or attending a first-run film ($10). They’re in about the same price range as a ticket to the Oakland Raiders ($26 to $101). Rock concerts for big-name acts can be stratospheric: the Rolling Stones charge anywhere from $60 to $472 for a seat at one of their concerts, making a box seat at the Opera look like a bargain. Coldplay tickets run $40 to $80 in Chicago, while Sheryl Crow will set you back $16 to $300 at one venue.


Monday, April 15, 2024

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Not Good for the Liberal Arts

Both Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, are replacing their outgoing chief executives with people who come from their respective business schools.

  • At Berkeley, Richard Lyons is the former head of the Haas School of Business. He replaces Carol Christ, a scholar of Victorian literature.
  • At Stanford, Jonathan Levin, currently the dean of the Stanford business school, replaces Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who resigned after allegations of misconduct related to the authenticity of images appearing in his published research. I here note that Levin is a nepo baby; his father was president of Yale for 20 years.
I can't help but thinking that these appointments won't be good for the humanities, which are under attack everywhere. I'm sure they will be able leaders in terms of fundraising, budgeting, and other responsibilities. I hope that they'll support the full breadth of academic programs at their respective institutions.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Still More Music Director Updates

Well, apologies: I didn't get to posting about Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony. Here are more updates, taken from comments to the previous update.

  • Kahchun Wong becomes the new principal conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in 2024-2025. This was announced in June 2023.
  • Christopher Franklin became the principal conductor of the Minnesota Opera in December, 2023. He was excellent in his appearances at San Francisco Opera, where I hope he'll guest conduct again.
  • Lionel Bringuier is principal conductor of the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra, as of the current season.
  • Peter Oundjian has been principal conductor of the Colorado Symphony since Feb. 2022.
  • Mark Wigglesworth becomes chief conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra next season.
  • Dalia Stasevska will be leaving the Lahti Symphony at the end of 2024-25.
  • Elim Chan will be leaving the Antwerp Symphony at the end of 2024-25
  • Kirill Karabits will be leaving the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra after this season.

Open positions:

  • San Francisco Symphony
  • Phoenix Symphony
  • Cleveland Orchestra, as of June, 2027.
  • Lahti Symphony, when Dalia Stasevka leaves.
  • Antwerp Symphony, with the departure in 2025 of Elim Chan.
  • Paris Opera is currently without a music director.
  • Nashville Symphony, when Giancarlo Guerrero leaves.
  • Deutsche Oper Berlin, when Donald Runnicles leaves.
  • Rottedam Philharmonic, when Lahav Shani leaves.
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic, as of 2026-27, when Gustavo Dudamel leaves for NY.
  • Sarasota Orchestra, following the death of Bramwell Tovey.
  • Seattle Symphony, following Thomas Dausgaard's abrupt departure in January, 2022.
  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra: open in 2024 when Louis Langree steps down.
  • Hong Kong Philharmonic, when Jaap van Zweden leaves in 2024.
  • Oakland Symphony, owing to the death of Michael Morgan in August, 2021.
  • Teatro Regio Turin: Open now with departure of Gianandrea Noseda. The Teatro Regio has not named a new music director.
  • Marin Symphony, at the end of 2022-23.
  • Vienna Staatsoper, when Philippe Jordan leaves at the end of 2025.
Conductors looking for jobs (that is, as of the near future, or now, they do not have a posting). The big mystery, to me, is why an orchestra hasn't snapped up Susanna Mälkki. Slightly lesser mystery: Henrik Nanasi, whose superb Cosi fan tutte is still lingering in my ears.
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen, if he wants such a position again
  • Dalia Stasevska
  • Elim Chan
  • Kirill Karabits
  • Tito Muñoz 
  • Andrey Boreyko
  • Osmo Vänskä
  • Susanna Mälkki, who left the Helsinki Philharmonic at the end of 2022-23.
  • MGT (apparently does not want a full-time job, as of early 2022)
  • Miguel Harth-Bedoya (seems settled in at Baylor)
  • Sian Edwards
  • Ingo Metzmacher
  • Jac van Steen
  • Ilan Volkov
  • Aleksandr Markovic
  • Lothar Koenigs
  • Henrik Nanasi
  • Philippe Jordan, eventually
  • Franz Welser-Möst, if he wants such a job
And closed:

  • Minnesota Opera: closed with the appointment of Christopher Franklin.
  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra gets to share Klaus Mäkelä with the Concertgebouw.
  • The Hallé Orchestra's next conductor will be Kahchun Wong.
  • Marin Alsop becomes principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, I believe succeeding Nathalie Stutzmann.
  • Simon Rattle becomes principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharonic.
  • John Storgards will becomes chief conductor of the Turku Philharmonic.
  • Update and correction: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra was unable to hire Cosette Justo Valdés. Instead, Jory Fankuchen, a violinist in the orchestra, has been named Principal Conductor and will lead this season's programs.
  • Indianapolis Symphony hires Jun Markel, effective September 1, 2024.
  • Andris Nelsons renewed his contract with the Boston Symphony. He's now on an evergreen rolling contract, which will continue as long as he and the orchestra are happy with each other. MTT had one of these at SFS.
  • Shanghai Symphony, with the appointment of Long Yu.
  • Virginia Symphony, with the appointment of Eric Jacobsen.
  • Warsaw Philharmonic, with the appointment of Krzysztof Urbański.
  • Bern Symphony, with the appointment of Krzysztof Urbański.
  • Berlin State Opera, with the appointment of Christian Thielemann.
  • Dresden Philharmonic, with the appointment of Donald Runnicles.
  • New York Philharmonic, with the appointment of Gustavo Dudamel. Note that Jaap van Zweden leaves in 2024 and there will be a two-season gap before Dudamel arrives.
  • Helsinki Philharmonic: Jukka-Pekka Saraste to succeed Susanna Mälkki.
  • Staatskapelle Dresden, with the appointment of Daniele Gatti.
  • Seoul Philharmonic appoints Jaap van Zweden.
  • Royal Opera appoints Jakub Hrůša to succeed Antonio Pappano in September, 2025.

 

Opera San José Cast Change

Something apparently didn't work as expected in Opera San José's upcoming production of Florencia en el Amazonas, because Elizabeth Caballero is singing the title role and Marlen Nahhas is not.

If you've been around a while, you'll remember Caballero as an exciting soprano, with an extremely beautiful voice, in the Adler Fellowship program at SF Opera. She withdrew partway through the fellowship to launch her career, perhaps before she was a fully mature artist. She's been singing all over the U.S. since then. I'm so interested to hear what she sounds like now.

This is all very last minute; the production opens on April 20, less than two weeks from today. Here's the top of the press release:

SAN JOSÉ, CA (8 April 2024) — In a last-minute change, internationally acclaimed soprano Elizabeth Caballero will take over the title role in the Bay Area premiere of Daniel Catán’s captivating opera, Florencia en el Amazonas presented by Opera San JoséThe singer, whose work has been described as “a thrilling balance of pearly tone, exacting technique, and brazen physicality” (The New York Times) and “a find: her opulent soprano rings freely and lyrically throughout her range” (The Wall Street Journal) is stepping in to replace the originally announced soprano Marlen Nahhas. Said Opera San José General Director/CEO Shawna Lucey, “We wish Marlen all the best and we are profoundly grateful for Elizabeth, who is leaping to our aid to take on this important role for historic moment for Opera San José as we present the first Spanish language opera on our mainstage.” Caballero, who has been seen at opera houses around the world including frequent starring roles at The Metropolitan Opera, is fortunately familiar with the role of Florencia. She has given critically acclaimed performances in Florencia en el Amazonas at Madison Opera, Nashville Opera, and New York City Opera where she was hailed as “stunning, singing with beautiful passion” (New York Classical Review) and “plush-toned, expressive” (The New York Times). Florencia en el Amazonas will be presented April 20 - May 5, 2024 (performance dates/times below) at the California Theatre, 345 South First Street, San JoséFor more information or to purchase tickets ($55–$195), the public can visit operasj.org or call 408-437-4450 (open Monday through Friday, 9:00am–5:00pm).   

Path of the Eclipse


Using a steamer insert to safely view the eclipse.
Oakland, CA
April 8, 2024


 

Museum Mondays

 


Birth of Gothic Sculpture
Musée de Cluny, Paris
October, 2018

Feast of the Annunciation

 


Annunciation
Sandro Botticelli
Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
December, 2023

Sunday, April 07, 2024

MTT, Here and There

 


Michael Tilson Thomas
Photo by Brandon Patoc (c), 2019
courtesy of San Francisco Symphony

I'm pleased to see that MTT continues to be as active as he can possibly be, given his current health. He's just been appointed a distinguished professor of music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he will "work individually with selected conducting and piano students, participate in readings with the orchestra and lead master classes", according to Joshua Kosman's article from earlier this week. I am sure that he'll be great at this.

Further, he's on the schedules of several American orchestras during the 2024-25 season:
  • New York Philharmonic, Mahler Symphony No. 5 and Mozart Piano Concerto No. 14 (Emmanuel Ax), opening the season in September
  • LA Philharmonic, Celebrating MTT, February 1, 2025 (program TBD)
  • Philadelphia Orchestra, May, 2025
He also has upcoming appearances at the New World Symphony in Miami, in London at the London Symphony, and in Copenhagen with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.

Really, it seems odd that he's not on the SFS schedule for 2024-25, given the above. As always, wishing MTT the very best.



Klaus Mäkelä, Here and There


Klaus Mäkelä leading the Oslo Philharmonic
Photo copyright Marco Borggreve
courtesy of Mäkelä's web site

There's been an enormous amount of ink spilled in the last few days over the appointment of Klaus Mäkelä, 28, to the post of music director for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, starting with the 2027-28 season. He is currently the music director of the Orchestre de Paris and the Oslo Philharmonic, posts he will leave before the 2027-28 season. 

He is also the incoming music director of the Concertgebouw. So, in three years, at 31, he'll be leading two of the world's great orchestras.

I've got two objections to this, one of which might or might not be connected to his age:

  • Nobody should be the music director of more than one major orchestra.
  • He was....good, not great, in his single appearance at San Francisco Symphony.
As to the first point above, I've been saying this for a few years. Big organizations deserve the more or less full attention of their music directors, who in the United States are responsible for working with the artistic administrator on programming, leading a substantial number of concerts, building the orchestra, both through consistent work with them and through hiring new musicians*, working with the board and administration on publicity and fundraising, and ideally being involved with the local community in some ways. 

That last item is complicated: it might entail working with youth orchestras, working with young musicians, bringing the orchestra or a subset of the musicians out into the community, and so on. Conductors really do vary a lot in how much they do this. Locally, the late Michael Morgan, conductor of the Oakland Symphony for decades, was the exemplar, not Esa-Pekka Salonen, not MTT, not Herbert Blomstedt at San Francisco Symphony. I understand that Gustavo Dudamel, who came out of Venezuela's Sistema, has done a lot of community-oriented work in LA.

And I realize that a conductor can lead just one orchestra and still not be around as much as you'd like. Salonen isn't the music director anywhere except SFS, but he teaches conducting at the Colburn School in LA (possibly putting a lot of mileage on the Prius I see parked in his spot in Lake Louise). In a typical year he has guest conducting engagements all over the United States and in Europe.

It'd be interesting to ask the Metropolitan Opera how it worked out when James Levine was the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra as well as the Met - okay, we know his health problems had a lot to do with his problems at both organizations - and how it's working out now to have YN-S at the Met, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal. Not that I think you'll get an honest answer, if there are any issues. And neither the BSO nor the Leipzig Gewandhaus will tell you whether it's a problem that Andris Nelsons is the music director of both.

But, you know, there is a gigantic pool of conducting talent out there. I know this because of the great performances I've heard the last few years just at SFS, from conductors as diverse as Dalia Stasevska, Elim Chan, Giancarlo Guerrero, Ruth Reinhardt, Nathalie Stutzmann, Krzysztof Urbański, Susanna Mälkki, Osmo Vänskä, and, of course, MTT and Salonen. Elsewhere, I've heard excellent work from Cristian Macerlaru at the Cabrillo Festival and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla in SF with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

As to the second - well, see the above. All of the conductors I list have been more memorable and interesting than Mäkelä, who has gotten mixed reviews from Joshua Kosman, Alex Ross, and (on record) David Allen. Balancing this, he got a great review from Justin Davidson for a recent Carnegie Hall program with the Orchestre de Paris. I trust the ears and judgement of all of these writers, and also my own. 

Certainly there's room for growth for every young musician. The LA Phil has a history of hiring surprisingly young and untried conductors, including Zubin Mehta, Gustavo Dudamel, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. By and large those were good appointments, in different ways. Maybe Mäkelä will be as good as Salonen one of these days, and I note that I have friends who still wince at some of Salonen's work in the, uh, core Germanic repertory in the 1990s. (His Beethoven here has been spectacularly good.)

Here are various Mäkelä-related articles that I've read over the last week and even earlier:

Belated Friday Photo


Santa Fe Sky and Adobe
July, 2018

 

Birds & Balls at Opera Parallèle

 


Nikola Printz as Billie Jean King in Laura Karpman's Balls
Opera Parallèle, April, 2024
Photo by Kristen Loken, courtesy of Opera Parallèle

This weekend, Opera Parallèle is presenting four performances of a charming double bill called Birds & Balls, consisting of David T. Little and Royce Vavrek's Vinkensport (about the Belgian sport of counting the mating calls of finches) and Laura Karpman and Gail Collins's Balls, which is about the 1973 tennis match between (the very closeted) champion Billie Jean King and (the asshole former amateur champion) Bobby Riggs.  I saw the second performance, yesterday afternoon.

I always want more operatic comedies, and this pairing is definitely a winner. Both works have good music and good to great performances; they are knit together by extremely funny patter from Howard Cosell (some of you will remember him) as a presentation of ABC's Wide World of Sports. (Does it still exist? I have no idea.) The standout performances are Nikola Printz as King and Nathan Granner as Riggs, with a great contribution by Tiffany Austin as King's secret lover Marilyn and the always-terrific Shawnette Sulker as Susan B. Anthony. Honestly, everyone was excellent, and Nicole Paiement conducted with her usual precision and drive. The two operas are not perfect, per Joshua Kosman's review, but I enjoyed them greatly despite the flaws.


Review roundup:

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Music Director Updates, Shocking and Not

Yes, it's true, I have not yet posted about the terrible news from my local orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, whose Board and CEO foolishly did not bend over backwards to retain Esa-Pekka Salonen as music director. I swear I'll get to it this weekend.

New news:
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen to leave the San Francisco Symphony when his contract expires at the end of 2024-25.
  • Klaus Mäkelä will be the next music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra WTF. As we know, every 28-year-old conductor should be in charge of two of the world's great orchestras plus a couple more that aren't quite on that level. I'll have more to say about this, too.
  • Jaap van Zweden will be the new music director of the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra from mid-2026. (Maybe he didn't really leave the New York Philharmonic to spend more time with his family; he is also the music director of the Seoul Philharmonic.)

Open positions:

  • San Francisco Symphony
  • Phoenix Symphony
  • Cleveland Orchestra, as of June, 2027.
  • Paris Opera is currently without a music director.
  • Nashville Symphony, when Giancarlo Guerrero leaves.
  • Deutsche Oper Berlin, when Donald Runnicles leaves.
  • Hallé Orchestra, when Mark Elder leaves.
  • Rottedam Philharmonic, when Lahav Shani leaves.
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic, as of 2026-27, when Gustavo Dudamel leaves for NY.
  • Sarasota Orchestra, following the death of Bramwell Tovey.
  • Seattle Symphony, following Thomas Dausgaard's abrupt departure in January, 2022.
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where Riccardo Muti left at the end of 2022-23.
  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra: open in 2024 when Louis Langree steps down.
  • Hong Kong Philharmonic, when Jaap van Zweden leaves in 2024.
  • Oakland Symphony, owing to the death of Michael Morgan in August, 2021.
  • Teatro Regio Turin: Open now with departure of Gianandrea Noseda. The Teatro Regio has not named a new music director.
  • Minnesota Opera: Michael Christie has left. MO has not named a new music director. 
  • Marin Symphony, at the end of 2022-23.
  • Vienna Staatsoper, when Philippe Jordan leaves at the end of 2025.
Conductors looking for jobs (that is, as of the near future, or now, they do not have a posting). The big mystery, to me, is why an orchestra hasn't snapped up Susanna Mälkki. Slightly lesser mystery: Henrik Nanasi, whose superb Cosi fan tutte is still lingering in my ears.
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen, if he wants such a position again
  • Tito Muñoz 
  • Andrey Boreyko
  • Osmo Vänskä
  • Susanna Mälkki, who left the Helsinki Philharmonic at the end of 2022-23.
  • MGT (apparently does not want a full-time job, as of early 2022)
  • Miguel Harth-Bedoya (seems settled in at Baylor)
  • Lionel Bringuier
  • Sian Edwards
  • Ingo Metzmacher
  • Jac van Steen
  • Mark Wigglesworth
  • Peter Oundjian
  • Ilan Volkov
  • Aleksandr Markovic
  • Lothar Koenigs
  • Henrik Nanasi
  • Philippe Jordan, eventually
  • Franz Welser-Möst, eventually
And closed:

  • Marin Alsop becomes principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, I believe succeeding Nathalie Stutzmann.
  • Simon Rattle becomes principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharonic.
  • John Storgards will becomes chief conductor of the Turku Philharmonic.
  • Update and correction: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra was unable to hire Cosette Justo Valdés. Instead, Jory Fankuchen, a violinist in the orchestra, has been named Principal Conductor and will lead this season's programs.
  • Indianapolis Symphony hires Jun Markel, effective September 1, 2024.
  • Andris Nelsons renewed his contract with the Boston Symphony. He's now on an evergreen rolling contract, which will continue as long as he and the orchestra are happy with each other. MTT had one of these at SFS.
  • Shanghai Symphony, with the appointment of Long Yu.
  • Virginia Symphony, with the appointment of Eric Jacobsen.
  • Warsaw Philharmonic, with the appointment of Krzysztof Urbański.
  • Bern Symphony, with the appointment of Krzysztof Urbański.
  • Berlin State Opera, with the appointment of Christian Thielemann.
  • Dresden Philharmonic, with the appointment of Donald Runnicles.
  • New York Philharmonic, with the appointment of Gustavo Dudamel. Note that Jaap van Zweden leaves in 2024 and there will be a two-season gap before Dudamel arrives.
  • Helsinki Philharmonic: Jukka-Pekka Saraste to succeed Susanna Mälkki.
  • Staatskapelle Dresden, with the appointment of Daniele Gatti.
  • Seoul Philharmonic appoints Jaap van Zweden.
  • Royal Opera appoints Jakub Hrůša to succeed Antonio Pappano in September, 2025.

 

Monday, April 01, 2024