Author Topic: Musical Chairs: The Conductor Positioning Game (Who Gets Which Job When & Where)  (Read 1272 times)

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Offline Ken B

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They all get paid too much. Find a good conductor of a regional orchestra, and give them a try for a year.
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Offline Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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Also, right now as they plan to renovate the hall, the NY job comes with the task of performing in a whole series of different venues across the city. I think part of the reason Gilbert bailed is that he did not want to beg the public to keep up with where the orchestra is moving each week.

The NY Philharmonic is a disaster, IMO. Avery Fisher Hall (or whatever they call it now) has dismal acoustics. If you are sitting anywhere near the balcony overhang the sound is utterly dead. The last time I was there I noticed they had installed speakers under the overhangs and the sound you hear is stronger from the speakers than from the orchestra itself. You might as well be listening to a recording unless you have the most prime seats in the house.

A great orchestra can't be cultivated in a hall that bad. In the good old days of Bernstein they played in Carnegie Hall, which has very good acoustics.

Then there is the management chaos. I seem to recall that a few years ago the NY Phil announced they were abandoning Lincoln center and moving back to Carnegie Hall. Then they announced they were not. Now renovation chaos. A city like New York deserves better.

Offline Pat B

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In the good old days of Bernstein they played in Carnegie Hall

Bernstein’s tenure started before Philharmonic Hall (the name of David Geffen Hall before it was Avery Fisher Hall) was built. After that they mostly played there, from what I have read, despite its flaws.

The Paul Myers biography says:

Quote from: Paul Myers
The new hall at Lincoln Center, while it looked elegant from the outside and enjoyed air-conditioning inside, could not match the acoustics of Carnegie Hall, but Bernstein struggled on, defending it against all-comers, while privately demanding work to improve the unattractive sound of the auditorium.

Most of of the NYPO-Bernstein recordings were made in St. George Hotel (before Philharmonic Hall opened), Manhattan Center, or Philharmonic Hall. Even their Mahler cycle, despite its eventual release in “Carnegie Hall Presents” guise, contains nothing recorded in Carnegie Hall. (Technically it’s not quite their cycle. The 8th and Das Lied were with the LSO and IPO in their respective cities.) The fact that they continued to use Manhattan Center at all does imply something amiss at Philharmonic Hall. The Columbia engineers usually made it sound pretty good, but not always: their Petrushka sounds awful by 1969 standards.

Bernstein’s tenure was before the 1970s renovations, which are generally regarded as making the acoustics somewhat less bad.

I don’t dispute your larger points, either that the hall is still subpar or the management chaotic.

Offline Ghost of Baron Scarpia

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My memory was a bit off for the dates, as you pointed out.

I think the fact that they did not record in Carnegie Hall while it was their concert residence was largely because it was not theirs exclusively. It was in constant demand for concerts of all types and the managers of Carnegie Hall would demand a high fee for it to be used for any purpose.

I never heard Philharmonic hall in its original acoustics, but did hear it before and after the 1980's renovation. Can't say I noticed any improvement, unless you call the electronic amplification an improvement.

I've been to a few concerts at Carnegie Hall and it was splendid, even after the recent renovation which is often claimed to have caused some harm to the acoustics.

I think I remember reading they plan to gut the entire hall at Lincoln Center except for its shell and build it again from scratch. The scheme, as I remember, is to make the excessively large concert space smaller and make room for a swanky restaurant catering to the very-rich crowd. Or maybe it was the canceling of that plan that prompted the threat by the NY Philharmonic to abandon the hall and move to Carnegie Hall. Chaos. And enjoying music in the venue seems to be far down on the list of priorities.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 03:30:14 PM by Ghost of Baron Scarpia »

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Yesterday morning I would have said that was only slightly more likely than SF getting Herbert von Karajan’s ghost.

Not just because of the NY situation, but also because it seems a bit strange for anyone to leave the LAPO then go to SF. (I’m assuming his departure from LA was completely voluntary.)

FWIW, according to this, SFSO’s budget is on par with NYPO’s. I think NYPO still has higher cachet, but maybe Salonen doesn’t care about that at this point.

What's the NY situation? I mean, they do have their guy, don't they?

And I wouldn't say that the LAPO has a higher cachet than the SFSO. If so, only because Salonen made them into what they are now. The SFSO is the more traditionally great orchestra on the West Coast and was (and probably still is) more relevant within its city. Agree re: assessment NY/SF -- although I think the reason there is the fact that Salonen very much appreciates and likes the Cali lifestyle, by now. He's got that vibe down pat.

Also this:


News: Osmo Vänskä to Step Down from Minnesota Orchestra Post


http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2018/12/news-osmo-vanska-to-step-down-from.html



Any rumors on Concertgebouw?

I've heard "Harding" as a possibility, which would be extremely disheartening. (Also just exchanging one serial womanizer for another, what's the point? Haitink, curiously enough, was to have been the worst. Not that I think we ought to judge as long as everything is perfectly, mutually voluntarily.)


I’ve read some time ago that the NY job is a hornet’s nest, coming with a huge PR component. Not to everyone’s taste, I’m sure.

SF will be just as much a PR job -- virtually every American orchestra is, these days. But Salonen sees that as an opportunity in SF... especially trying to draw in the Silicon Valley industry, which has hitherto avoided overt high-brow cultural spending. That's probably the core of the deal, ahead of musical reasons. (Which, happily, are all in place and proper, with the choice of Salonen.)


Offline Draško

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I've heard "Harding" as a possibility, which would be extremely disheartening. (Also just exchanging one serial womanizer for another, what's the point? Haitink, curiously enough, was to have been the worst. Not that I think we ought to judge as long as everything is perfectly, mutually voluntarily.)

Daniel Harding's been around for odd twenty years now I think and yet the only thing I remember about him is his face from some covers and that once upon a time he was a protegee of this or that. I honestly can't recall a single musical moment in which he was involved. Possibly I just haven't been paying enough attention? 

But Concertgebouw hasn't been great at choosing for some time now. Jansons splitting time with BRSO resulted in lots of averageness and Gatti is another conductor whose greatness seems to elude me.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 09:45:28 AM by Draško »

Offline Todd

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Wow - Esa-Pekka Salonen rejected New York to take the San Francisco job.

Super impressive get and good fit for SF.


Hot damn!  I'll have to visit the Bay Area again after he takes charge.
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Offline André

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I have a feeling that the Concertgebouw job might go to a Dutch, this time.

Offline Pat B

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And I wouldn't say that the LAPO has a higher cachet than the SFSO.

I think they’re very close in cachet, maybe uncannily so. LA does have a significantly higher budget and a newer, landmarkier (not necessarily better) hall, but that’s not really what I was thinking about either. He’s a human, and his departure from LA was a decade ago, and I’m sure he has had good reasons for his decisions. This one was just surprising from my distant perspective, as I would be if Zinedine Zidane went to Barcelona or Nick Saban to Auburn. Or perhaps Jansons to Hamburg — though that would reverse the architectural direction between early-1980s brutalism and shiny 21st-century post-modernism.