Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Breaking from Boston

As predicted elsewhere by those with their ears to the ground and their noses in the wind, the official word just came in that James Levine is stepping down as music director in Boston as of Sept. 1. This isn't exactly a surprise — Levine's been in poor health and missing appearances for a while now — but it does bring a premature close to what sounded by all reports like a fairly exciting chapter in the history of an orchestra that has badly needed same. (I was on the list to hear Levine and the BSO do the Mahler Ninth in Carnegie later this month — no word yet on who or what will replace that.)

For me, the interesting tell now will be how quickly and how skillfully the BSO management finds a successor for Levine. I know I tend to harp on this, but the business of lining up and landing music directors is one of those areas that really do separate the orchestra managers who know what they're doing from those that operate at Lincoln Center. I don't have a good sense of where Mark Volpe falls on that spectrum, but this could be the make-or-break moment for him. Levine's health issues have been obvious for so long that there's no excuse for not having someone ready to step in on short notice. If that happens, then bravo for Volpe and the BSO; if this is their cue to start forming committees and launching a search, then they're hopelessly behind the curve.


At 3/02/2011 2:50 PM, Blogger Lisa Hirsch said...

It's Andris Nelsons for the March 17 Carnegie Hall concerts - see this morning's BSO press release.

At 3/02/2011 3:02 PM, Blogger Joshua Kosman said...

Ah. And what do we know of this gentleman?

At 3/02/2011 3:32 PM, Blogger Lisa Hirsch said...

He is the current music director of the CBSO and has a good reputation in Great Britain. Has conducted all over Europe, including Bayreuth. Young - born in 1978. I've read about him mostly at Intermezzo, one of the London classical music blogs.

At 3/02/2011 5:21 PM, Blogger Lisa Hirsch said...

Times article on the situation makes it sound as though the BSO is behind the curve. While we don't know what they may have been doing backstage, as it were, they say they're just forming a search committee and it is "unlikely" anyone will be in place by September 1. They've been having talks about Levine's artistic role since November,

I'm not sure I agree with Dan Wakin that the work at an orchestra is more intense than at an opera house. Putting together an opera takes all sorts of rehearsals (with singers, Sitzprobe, full, piano, dress, etc.) and Levine would spend plenty of time at those, not to mention lining up future seasons, learning new rep. administration, orchestra auditions, etc.

On the other hand, the article says Levine is only scheduled for four or five productions, totalling maybe 30 to 40 performances, in the next few years. Hmmm.

At 4/25/2011 1:28 PM, Blogger Lisa Hirsch said...

Matthew Guerrieri has interesting comments about the BSO situation at his blog.


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