PSO's Honeck will not be New York Philharmonic's next music director
January 27, 2016 6:39 PM
Hiroyuki Ito/The New York Times
Jaap van Zweden leads the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in New York in 2014. Mr. van Zweden has been named the group's music director.
By Elizabeth Bloom / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden was named the music director of the New York Philharmonic today, ending nearly a year of speculation as to who would succeed Alan Gilbert at the helm of the country’s most august orchestra.
Manfred Honeck, music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, was considered a leading contender for the job despite publicly stating he did not want to leave Pittsburgh, where he is under contract until 2020.
He confirmed in an interview that the Philharmonic contacted him about the position.
“I made it always clear that I want to fulfill my contract, which goes until 2020. What happens after that, I don’t know,” he said. The Austrian conductor, whose past appearances with the Philharmonic have been critically acclaimed, said he enjoys working with that orchestra and plans to continue appearing as a guest conductor.
Mr. Honeck pointed out that the Philharmonic will need an artistic leader before 2020: The orchestra will soon embark on a renovation of its venue, David Geffen Hall, and will be without a home base during construction, which is expected to start in 2019, The New York Times reported.
"I think the New York Philharmonic made a very good choice, in my opinion,” Mr. Honeck said of Mr. van Zweden.
Mr. van Zweden, 55, is currently the music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. He will assume the title of music director designate in the 2017-18 season and the full directorship the following season, when he begins a five-year contract. His venerated predecessors at the Philharmonic include Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Masur and former PSO music director Lorin Maazel.
“This is one of the happiest and most fulfilling days of my life,” he said in a press release. “To be asked by the great musicians of the New York Philharmonic and by the board of this iconic institution to be its music director is truly an honor. As musicians, we strive to achieve the best for our audiences in sharing the music of so many gifted composers of the past and present as we look to the future. My heart is full, and my family and I look forward to being true New Yorkers, as I was during my Juilliard days.”
A graduate of New York’s Juilliard School, Mr. van Zweden became concertmaster of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra when he was 19. He has been the DSO’s music director since 2008 and was Musical America’s 2012 Conductor of the Year. He is credited for raising the stature of the DSO but has a reputation for a martial rehearsal style: In 2014, The Dallas Morning News reported that musicians felt “browbeaten” under his baton — an approach that contrasts with that of Mr. Honeck, who is known for his gentle manner.
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