in: News & Features

December 17, 2011

BSO Announces Replacements for Conductor Chailly

by

The players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra will be performing without a conductor for the first half of the subscription series concerts running between January 19 and January 24. This is a first, we believe. Due to the cancellation of the indisposed Riccardo Chailly and necessary program changes, sections of the orchestra will be showcasing their abilities to perform as chamber musicians sans leader.

Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and “Procession du Vendredi-saint (“Good Friday Procession”) from French composer Henri Tomasi’s Fanfares liturgiques will be essayed by the brass and percussion players, then Richard Strauss’s Serenade in E-flat, op. 7, will be played by the winds; and the first half will conclude with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade in C for Strings, op. 48.

The second half of the concert will present the originally scheduled The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky under the direction of Giancarlo Guerrero. He made his BSO debut at Tanglewood on August 22, 2010 and debuts in the BSO subscription series with these performances. Guerrero is now in his third season as music director of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. In autumn 2011, he also began his role as principal guest conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency. A full biography of the young conductor is here.

In the second set of subscription concerts that Chailly was to have conducted, Bramwell Tovey will lead the orchestra.  The January 26-31 program will go on as planned, with one work, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise), for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, featuring sopranos Carolyn Sampson and Camilla Tilling, tenor Mark Padmore, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Bramwell Tovey made his BSO debut in Tanglewood last summer in a concert performance of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. He also makes his BSO subscription series debut with these performances. His tenures as music director with the Vancouver Symphony, Luxembourg Philharmonic and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras have been praised for his expertise in operatic, choral, British and contemporary repertoire. His complete bio is here.

10 Comments

  1. Was neither of the assistant conductors available to conduct January 19-24? Shouldn’t at least one of them have had the dates clear on his calendar? Wouldn’t it be quite a slap in the face for management to consider them incompetent to fill in?

    But, failing that, couldn’t Maestro Guerrero have conducted the originally programmed first half?

    Strange, strange.

    That said, it should be interesting to hear the second Copland piece and the Tomasi. Too bad they had to parade out the warhorses to begin and end the leaderless portion.

    Getting Tovey for the Mendelssohn seems like a good move.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — December 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm

  2. Oops! I misread the article. I see that there is only one Copland piece: the warhorse. So what I’m looking forward to is the Tomasi, and to a lesser degree, the Strauss.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — December 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

  3. Typical BSO ..hopeless management on every possible level…musical and just plain common sense.

    The “new” website is a non-user friendly disgrace and half the time it’s off-line.  Giving up a busy check room
    for an extra coffee bar with absolutely no room for patrons to even put a cup down..there is a real coffee bar with
    plenty of seating 50 feet away!  A total lack of any business acumen is evident. 

    Perhaps the BSO officials were chosen by WGBH!

    Yes, Joe… Maestro Guerrero should have conducted the originally programmed first half?

    Or.. why wasn’t Guerrero given the opportunity to choose his own program?

    We will never know the real reasons.

     

    Comment by Ed Burke — December 18, 2011 at 2:18 am

  4. Actually, Ed the “extra” coffee bar is the two old ones that were in the corners of the “Hatch Room” on the Huntington Avenue side, one of which had espresso and cappuccino. I haven’t noticed the other one you speak of: I’ll have to explore a bit more. I’ll keep patronizing the one in the former coat room, out of customer loyalty. But not only is the new location a real inconvenience for patrons, it also no doubt cuts into the income of the three people who now have one location for customers, instead of two, and even more into the income of the coat room attendant — although, again, customer loyalty and convenience will keep me patronizing Dorothy Latham on the first balcony level.

    Basically, though, I agree with you: moving those coffee bars out of the Hatch Room and into the coat room is a stupid move which disserves the patrons and the vendors. Apparently, management wants to sell as much booze as they possibly can; I guess there’s more money to be made from booze.

    And you’re right about the new website: a complete disaster. It is friendly for only one thing — purchasing tickets and “amenities”; but if you just want information, prepare to jump through hoops. 

    Comment by Joe Whipple — December 18, 2011 at 10:38 am

  5. Thinking about the fact that the BSO seems to have become much more blatantly money-grubbing over the past four or five years, I’m wondering why. I checked the most recent program booklet, and by my count the orchestra page lists 107 positions, including instrumentalists, conductors, and a few others. Of those 107 positions, 74 are listed as endowed, and 56 of the endowed are endowed in perpetuity (including the music directorship). So it does not seem that musicians’ salaries have suddenly started to break the bank. I wonder, therefore if the problem which seems to afflict many “public charities” (i.e., 501(c)(3)’s) and non-profits has hit the BSO — namely, upper management treating it as a cash cow, paying themselves exorbitant salaries, with directors or trustees either complaisant or inattentive. Or is it that they are spending tons more on “outreach” than they ever used to?

    But then,
         Life would be “extremely flat
         With nothing whatever to grumble at.”

    Comment by Joe Whipple — December 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm

  6. I got an e-mail suggesting that I take a look at the BSO’s 990’s. At a glance, it appears that Mark Volpe gets something on the order of $600,000, which doesn’t seem exorbitant, considering that a number of musicians are being paid over $200,000, and neither his nor musicians’ salaries seem to have increased unreasonably over the past couple of filings. Education, including both Tanglewood educational programs and community education efforts increased from about $4,400,000 in the fiscal year ending in 2008 to about $5,000,000 in FY 2010. Between the two fiscal years total revenue was steady at about $63,000,000, but in FY 2008 ticket sales and other “program service”revenue was about $2,000,000 more than in FY 2010. The difference was made up by increased contributions in 2010.

    In short, at a glance there doesn’t seem to be excessive compensation, nor has there been a remarkable increase in income or expenses. So if my perception is correct — that they seem much more focused on “money-grubbing” than several years ago — it’s probably just because there isn’t much of a margin, and they need everything they can get to keep the operation going. In FY 2008 there was a profit of about “$2,400,000, in FY 2009 $14,000,000 (which was more than accounted for by a spike of nearly $25,000,000 in contributions — without that spike, there would have been a loss of over $10,000,000), and in FY 2010 — with contributions back to “normal” — the loss was about $10,400,000. Even if Mark Volpe were working for nothing, they’d have run at a big loss last year. 

    Comment by Joe Whipple — December 18, 2011 at 8:34 pm

  7. Interesting numbers. I do not know how they relate to anything and how to interpret them. I am sure there is a lot of more than just those numbers. However, I do know that some “excitement” around BSO did subdue over the last 3-4 years. It is not that BSO not able to deliver memorable concerts but rather that there is no stimulating central idea behind BSO programming, BSO play and BSO Sound. It is like routine surviving: musicians draw salary and render notes, concert goers buy ticket, WCRB invent each time a new way to screw up Sound, BMI’s writer invent each week new combination of now and adjective to write their “reviews” and … I am sitting sometimes at those uncomfortable chairs in Symphony Hole and thinking if I need to stay for the second act of the concert or it would be better to go across the street and eat a large Boston Market meal.

    It is not about bitching regarding the BSO music director or quality of BSO play but rather losing BSO and focused creative force. I am sure that it is not only my feeling and I am sure that it does have a feedback in box office. We are good 3-7 years or more from a new musical director and no one said that a new musical director will do anything improved in the right direction. So, does BSO has any administrative forces with itself that can light up the fire of excitement with itself and open a Pandora Box of true creative power-house that BSO use to be?

    Well, Moses led his people 40 years across the desert unit the last remembering slavery was consumed. Well, in 40 years whoever read/write this depressing post will be dead. Do we have time or intentions to wait? BSO today reminds me the old song by Leonard Cohen “Waiting For The Miracle”…

    http://youtu.be/Y-E53gmeO-8

    The Cat

    Comment by Romy The Cat — December 19, 2011 at 6:28 pm

  8. JW writes: “Were neither of the assistant conductors available to conduct January 19-24? Shouldn’t at least one of them have had the dates clear on his calendar? Wouldn’t it be quite a slap in the face for management to consider them incompetent to fill in?
    But, failing that, couldn’t Maestro Guerrero have conducted the originally programmed first half?”
    Jeezis, if this attitude prevailed in June 1886 and November 1943, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein would never have had their sensational, sudden debuts.

    Comment by Don Drewecki — December 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm

  9. DD, are you suggesting that Maestro Guerrero needs the big break more than Newhouse or Lehninger? Actually, it won’t be a sudden debut for him, nor would it have been for either of them, but I think he’s a bit farther along in his career than they are in theirs.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — December 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm

  10. Joe writes:  “DD, are you suggesting that Maestro Guerrero needs the big break more than Newhouse or Lehninger? Actually, it won’t be a sudden debut for him, nor would it have been for either of them, but I think he’s a bit farther along in his career than they are in theirs.”
     
    All I’m saying is that if you have an assistant or associate conductor, let him/her conduct, an entire program.  He might have done well with that original program, and I might have traveled out from the Albany/Schenectady area.
     
    dd

    Comment by Don Drewecki — December 22, 2011 at 11:22 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, this comment forum is now closed.