How to choose a music director without talking to agents
March 1, 2017 by norman lebrecht
We have received a report on how the city of Guayaquil in Ecuador (pop. 3.8 million) went about selecting a chief conductor and artistic director for its symphony orchestra. It’s an object lesson in transparency.
Why can’t others do the same? Israel Philharmonic, Zurich Tonhalle, many others: read and learn.
The announcement reportedly brought a pool of 95 applicants from all over the world.
All were asked to submit a project with seasons of concerts, a corresponding rationale, proof of experience as a music director, credentials, CV, transcripts, testimonies of work -and, contrary to the norm, no recommenders or managements were involved at all.
Committees formed by key players of the orchestra guided the National Director of Musical Arts in selecting 85 applicants. Out of this group, they chose semi-finalists.
After further scrutiny, five finalists (a French, a Russian, a Spaniard, a Cuban, and an Italian-Argentine) were invited to conduct a three-hour rehearsal-audition. The repertoire covered two centuries of western music, some Ecuadorian music, ending with a non-disclosed piece, accompanying a soloist.
In total, five days of work, where the orchestra played an entire rehearsal for each of the finalists.
All orchestra musicians voted, judging preparation, rehearsal technique, manners, communication skills, knowledge of scores, among many topics. Their votes, as well as the grades given by the committees judging the initial stages, were taken into consideration at the final stage. Finally an international jury of conductors, which monitored the process, and observed all auditions, chose the winner – by a unanimous decision.
The result was then sent to the Minister of Culture of Ecuador, Raúl Vallejo, perhaps one of the country’s most important writers and poets. He met with three finalists and endorsed the jury’s decision.
Nothing was done in hotel bars or behind closed doors.
The new music director is Dante Santiago Anzolini, an Argentine-born Italian. Congratulations all round.
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