Osmo Vänskä (on bike) has signed on for an additional four years at the helm of the Minnesota Orchestra, keeping him there (at least?) through 2014-15, effectively canceling his already modest chance to become the next music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mixed feelings about him, still.
Hans Graf, on the other hand, is getting ready to take his leave of Houston, committing to the Houston Symphony through 2012-13 and not a minute longer. After that, you can call him Laureate.
Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer is the new music director of the Utah Symphony/Utah Opera, succeeding Keith Lockhart. Fischer will continue his current gig as principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Can music directors make or break the box office? Our favorite music critic, Anne Midgette of the Washington Post, answers in a lively Sunday piece.
The question is relevant in Philadelphia, where the orchestra is more dependent than ever on single-ticket sales. In 1987-88, 83 percent of the house was sold on subscription. In 2008-09, subscriptions accounted for just 56 percent of capacity. And when you consider that the house has shrunk (Academy of Music was 2,929, Verizon about 2,500), and that you don't need to buy as many tickets as you used to in order to be considered a subscriber, you realize that the situation is even worse.
And finally, while it may leave music fans confused and bitter, we must share the news that Angela Merkel has removed herself as a candidate for music director with any orchestra. “Don’t expect to see me be some kind of conductor with a baton in her hand,” said Merkel after being elected to a second term as German chancellor. Simon Rattle can stop looking over his shoulder now.