conducting the orchestra world

a new era for the oregon symphony

Screenshot: Oregon Symphony

This morning the new Music Director Designate of the Oregon Symphony was named, effective the 2021-2022 season. His name is David Danzmayr, and I’m very hopeful about what will take place under his tenure.

OSO President Scott Showalter makes the big announcement.

I have just a couple observations about the choice of Danzmayr. First, he’s another white, European male. I was hoping that at least one, maybe two of these descriptors would be different, but I’m not letting that get in the way of being open-minded about what his tenure will be like. Second, I very much enjoyed the one program I played under him, which was back in 2018 – just over three years ago. I missed out on his return visit in 2019 due to my clavicle being broken.

My other observations have to do with outgoing Music Director Carlos Kalmar. Respect must be given where it is due. The Oregon Symphony is not the same orchestra that he inherited. The artistic growth of the orchestra under his leadership almost defies categorization. I joke with people that I stayed with the orchestra in which I won my position, and then moved into a better job without going anywhere simply due to the rise of artistic standards.

Carlos’ tenure hasn’t been bump-free, far from it, but there is literally no orchestra anywhere that has the same relationship with their music director 10, 15, 20 years down the line that they did in the first five years. I know that I have grown as a player and as a musician under his leadership, and I’m very much thankful for that.

I don’t know what the plans are for a continuing relationship with Carlos under the new music director’s leadership. Some orchestras have an Emeritus position that allows for a few guest appearances in subsequent seasons, but some outgoing music directors prefer to just make the break quick and permanent, without future dalliances. Stay tuned!

More stuff that’s on tap for the coming seasons: new artistic partnerships (and a couple of returning ones):

Conductor Jun Märkl will be our first ever Principal Guest Conductor.
Two new artistic partners: Nathalie Joachim and Gabriella Lena Frank.
Composer and singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane returns as Creative Chair
Cellist Johannes Moser returns as Artist-in-residence.
Violinist Simone Lansma joins as Artist-in-residence.

I am so excited about these new additions! I have always loved working with Maestro Märkl, and knowing that he will be a regular presence in coming seasons is fantastic news.

I’m very familiar with composer Gabriella Frank – I’ve worked with her several times, and am looking forward to the fresh voices that she will bring to our stage, both with her wonderful music and with her young proteges from the Gabriella Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music.

I don’t know much about Nathalie Joachim, but I’m keen to explore her previous projects and try to guess what kind of collaborations might grow from this appointment!

Gabriel Kahane has already been a huge addition to our artistic team, and I can’t wait to see what he’s got up his sleeve for the coming season(s).

As for the artists-in-residence, I love both of them! Not to sound like a broken record (or skipping CD, or corrupted MP3 file), but I’m really interested in what they will bring to their relationships with the OSO as well. I’m hoping that there might be opportunities for chamber music collaborations with orchestra members, but that will just have to wait until the upcoming season is announced sometime in the next few weeks.

Finally, thanks for all of the supportive comments and emails in response to my previous post. They are greatly appreciated, and I am charting my future course with the help of family, friends, and trained professionals. I’m honored to share my thoughts with you, and I thank you so much for sticking with me and this crazy blog over the years!

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