The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia has renewed a contract with music director Dirk Brossé that keeps him in the post through the 2021-22 season. Previously, the 56-year-old conductor’s deal ran through the 2017-18 season.
In speaking about the reasons for the renewal, the chamber orchestra’s still-new executive director, Bill Rhoads, cited Brossé’s philosophy on programming, his interest in developing partnerships with other groups, and his musicianship.
“I have been meeting with each of the musicians just to get to know the institution better, and they absolutely adore Dirk, and I’ve been told there is this sense that the quality of the ensemble has gone up since Dirk has been there. That is obviously something we want to maintain.”
The chamber orchestra will continue to develop programs that mix standard repertoire with less familiar composers, living composers, and world premieres, Rhoads said. In addition, the group next season will develop a “point of cohesion” spread across the entire season.
“For instance,” he said, “maybe it will focus on a specific instrument or on a certain area of the world, or on other disciplines, maybe a focus on dance or the written word, or visual arts or a certain style of music that we wish to magnify. It’s conceptual, but it enables us to provide audiences with a richer experience.”
Brossé – based in Ghent, Belgium – became music director of the chamber orchestra in 2010. He is also a composer, and this May will conduct the premiere of his own Pictures at an Exhibition inspired by pieces at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Brossé toured the collection and first came up with 20 pieces, but settled on works of Edward Hopper, Edward Hicks, Thomas Moran, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Man Ray, and Mark Rothko.
Brossé has only recently narrowed his list to these seven – all American, many with Philadelphia connections.
“He’s writing as we speak,” said Rhoads. ‘Never fear, it’ll be ready.”