Fabio Luisi is Dallas Symphony's new music director

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jserraglio
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Fabio Luisi is Dallas Symphony's new music director

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:52 pm

Dallas Symphony names Italian conductor Fabio Luisi its next music director
The Dallas Morning News
Scott Cantrell

https://www.dallasnews.com/arts/dallas- ... c-director

Few conductors have a more impressive international résumé, in both orchestra and opera, than Fabio Luisi. On Monday, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced the 59-year-old Italian as its next music director, succeeding Jaap van Zweden.

Top-flight conductors tend to be booked well in advance, and Luisi currently has three principal conductor contracts in Europe. He'll gradually reduce those as he expands his time in Dallas from five to 10 or more weeks by 2021.

He walked onstage at the Meyerson Symphony Center on Monday morning to a standing ovation from patrons gathered onstage. Even the weather played a role in the welcoming. It was a cool 70 degrees outside when Luisi began his remarks.

He said he was "overwhelmed" by the quality of the orchestra when he came to Dallas in March for an evening of guest-conducting. He said "the attitude and the spirit in our rehearsals were so fantastic." He said it left him with the conclusion that "this is an orchestra I can really work with."

He called the opportunity to be DSO conductor "interesting, challenging, exciting ... Let me express one more time how happy I am to be here."

Sanjiv Yajnik, chairman of the board of the Dallas Symphony Association, lauded the choice of the new conductor, saying, "Today is about the future. It is about the future of our great city of Dallas. It is about the future of our great Dallas Symphony. Today is about the naming of our next inspirational music director for this symphony orchestra, which is one of the best in the world."

Yajnik said that orchestra management "wanted only the very best — no compromise."

In a recent phone interview from Zurich, Luisi reiterated his first impressions of the orchestra.

"When I came, I knew they were searching for a new principal conductor," he said. "I knew it was a good orchestra, but the quality of the orchestra, and the spirit in the orchestra, went way beyond my expectations.

"And it's a great hall, a very warm hall. When I entered the stage, I felt very welcome, at home somehow. When [DSO president and CEO Kim Notelmy and vice president of artistic operations Peter Czorny] approached me after the concert, I said, 'OK, let's talk about it.'"

Notelmy, who took over in January, said, "Fabio Luisi is an amazing conductor with great experience in a lot of repertoire. He also very intellectually curious, and wanting to do new things. I would say he's a wonderful choice for the Dallas Symphony, to take us to the next level of artistic development.

"He is a very thoughtful man, very committed. He really wants this to be a partnership, and a dialogue. It's so exciting to think of working with someone like that for the next number of years. And this is a wonderful opportunity for him — that's what he has told us — to shape an American orchestra."

Luisi created quite a stir with his March DSO performances, which a Dallas Morning News review hailed "one of the most impressive guest conductor appearances in recent memory," and praised "a brilliant and elegantly detailed Strauss Ein Heldenleben." A 2002 review praised "strongly individualized — indeed, dramatized — performances."

Musicians spoke admiringly of his fastidious — but gentlemanly — insistence on detail and finesse.

"The orchestra really rallied and loved working with him," said concertmaster Alexander Kerr, one of four musicians on the DSO search committee. "Immediately, from the first downbeat, this change came over everybody. We knew that he was someone special.

"He's no less demanding than Jaap, but he's very calm in his demeanor, very gentlemanly. It's a different kind of intensity from Jaap — no less intense, no less demanding in attention to detail, just a different kind of atmosphere."

Although he has guest-conducted major American orchestras, Luisi is best known in this country for an acclaimed tenure, from 2011 to 2017, as principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, where he sustained musical values while former artistic director James Levine was sidelined by physical problems. DVD recordings of the Met's newest Wagner Siegfried and Götterdämmerung productions, with Luisi conducting, earned Grammy awards.

Luisi was widely considered the Met's heir apparent, but Levine's return to the podium in 2013 added uncertainty to the company's future. Levine has since been dismissed by the Met amid accusations of sexual abuse.

Already general music director of the Zurich Opera, whose orchestra also performs separate concerts, Luisi declined an offer to extend his Met contract, becoming principal conductor of the Danish National Symphony in 2017. This year, he also becomes music director of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, an April-to-July music-and-dance festival in Florence, Italy.

How will he fit the DSO into an already busy schedule?

"Beginning in 2019, I'm reducing my commitments in Europe — during the next season already — in order to do what Dallas requires," he said.

As music director-designate, he'll make a special guest-conducting appearance during the 2018-19 season. His five-year contract will begin in 2019-20, with five weeks that season as music director-designate. Taking over fully as music director in 2020-21, he'll conduct seven weeks that season and 10 or more in each of the following three seasons.

"I know that in the United States, the orchestras have to rely on the generosity of the sponsors who sustain the orchestra," Luisi said. "I know that this is very important for the orchestra, especially in Dallas, to involve the larger community, a larger segment of the population, different kinds of audiences. This is something I will be happy to explore in the future."

Luisi hails from Genoa, Italy, hometown of explorer Christopher Columbus, violinist/composer Niccoló Paganini and architect Renzo Piano. Trained there in piano, Luisi became interested in conducting while working as an accompanist. He studied conducting at the conservatory in Graz, Austria, and began working as an accompanist and conductor with Graz Opera.

He became principal conductor of the Graz Symphony, then artistic director and chief conductor of the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra. In a dizzying and often overlapping succession, he went on to principal conductor positions with the MDR Symphony in Leipzig, L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Dresden Staatskapelle and Semperoper, and the Vienna Symphony.

The DSO's music director search began soon after van Zweden's January 2016 announcement that he would become music director of the New York Philharmonic with the 2018-19 season. To head the 12-member search committee, the board tapped businessman Morton H. Meyerson, a longtime board member who oversaw the design and building of the orchestra hall named in his honor.

Operating in tight-lipped secrecy, the committee included four musicians — in addition to Kerr, co-concertmaster Nathan Olson, principal trumpet Ryan Anthony and principal bassoonist Ted Soluri — plus board and DSO staff members and outside community representatives.

Both Meyerson and Kerr said the committee started with a real commitment to diversity, in both gender and race. But several women conductors approached about the job felt they were too committed elsewhere to consider the DSO.

"We put some emphasis on diversity, some emphasis on broad repertory, and someone who could take what Jaap did to the next stage," Meyerson said. "The orchestra is far, far better than it was 10 years ago. The question was: Was it possible to find somebody who could take what had been built, and build on that in a new and perhaps better way?"

An initial list of more than 100 potential candidates was narrowed to three front-runners and three backups. Committee members traveled to see candidates conducting elsewhere, and musicians quizzed friends in other orchestras. All orchestra members filled out anonymous evaluations of each guest conductor.

"The musicians' insights were really intriguing to me," Meyerson said. "They had strong opinions pro and con, and no candidate got 100 percent. But we coalesced, and unanimously came to the conclusion that Luisi was the best candidate, on all levels."

Kerr added, "I can't tell you how excited I am. He's amazing. He's a gentleman. He's an incredible musician. He's everything you want in a music director. We're incredibly lucky and incredibly happy to have him."

John F
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Fabio Luisi is Dallas Symphony's new music director

Post by John F » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:01 pm

Fabio Luisi joined CompuServe's Music Forum way back when, using his real name, and came across as friendly and with no pretensions. Good luck to him in Dallas!
John Francis

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