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Just in: Brazil maestro gets a job

June 27, 2017 by norman lebrecht

17 comments.


Roberto Minczuk, controversial former music director of the collapsing Brazil Symphony Orchestra (OSB), has won the contest for the vacant podium at the New Mexico Philharmonic.

The unsuccessful candidates were Marcelo Lehninger, Rune Bergmann, Oriol Sans, Grant Cooper and Fawzi Haimor.

UPDATE: Lehninger and Bergmann withdrew early from the process.


Comments (17)

  1. Conte says:

    Roberto Minczuk is not the director of OSB (Rio de Janeiro) since 2015. He is the director from Orquestra Sinfônica Municipal de São Paulo.

  2. DrummerMan says:

    I worked with Roberto – he is a wonderful artist and a lovely person though I’d heard about the problems in Brazil. Lehninger is the brand new MD of the Grand Rapids Symphony.

    Speaking of New Mexico Phil, Marian Tanau was appointed their executive director in 2011 but is still listed as a violinist with the Detroit Symphony. Can anyone shed any light on this?

  3. Rgiarola says:

    Marcelo Lehninger is also Brazilian, but for Slippeddisc.com, “OSB” seems to be the top-notch classical stuff around the country. It is not even among the top 5 institutions now a days. The best without any dispute is the sao paulo symphony, that had been from 1997 till 2006 under Minczuck direction (Associate). By the way, SP symphony demanded the retest for all musicians on 1997. On the other hand, the orchestra management could provide a incredible new concert hall for 1.800 people with and outstanding acoustic, plus musical direction with well-know MD such Alsop, Tortelier and Neschling, but above all the best fee that any concert musician can receive in the south hemisphere perhaps. I’m glad they performed the retest 20 years ago. Probably it is out of sense for european standards, but until 1997 a position in State Orchestra was like any other bureaucratic position in any public company: “people that pass a test, in order to do not need to do any effort in their lives, since everything is guarantee for life”. After 1997, they had never performed any retest or similar. Among it’s musicians the concertmaster Emmanele Baldini, ex-concertino of Scalla Milano. Horacio Schaffer, ex-concertmaster of viola of Essen Philharmoniker. Ilia Laporev ex- cello of G. Mahler chamber. Ovanir Buosi, ex clarinet of Southbank Sinfonia and London winds. Just to mention a few names that could find places in any other orchestra in the world.

    By the way, R. Minczuck was MD in Canada during the last decade, and just before New Mexico. Now He is back to Sao Paulo as MD of the opera house. No restest was even cogitated for the opera musicians. It is time for Slippedisc to stop chase Roberto Minczuck, unless the blog turn to be accurate about Brazil classical scenario. Cristina Ortiz is a great pianist, but had been living outside Brazil for many decades. She is not the only resource about the retest of OSB musicians.

    1. Ana Luiza Daltro says:

      Very well said! Couldn’t agree more.

  4. Albuquerque says:

    I am a member of the NM Philharmonic. Marian Tanau is still a violinist with Detroit.
    He commutes to Albuquerque.

    Lehninger and Bergmann were not “unsuccessful candidates.” The both pulled out of the MD search.

    Roberto’s concerts with us were fine. He was considerate and respectful towards the musicians and very good on the podium. We are happy to have him.

    1. DrummerMan says:

      Thank you for this information but it does seems like a most unusual management arrangement.

      1. Paul Dornian says:

        As mentioned Rune Bergman pulled out of the competition in New Mexico more than a year ago. He is the Music Director Designate of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and will lead our group beginning in September of this year. Roberto Minczuk was the MD in Calgary for 10 years, finishing in June of 2016. He is a fine musician and great person. He will be a wonderful leader for NM.

        Does Slipped Disc ever bother to fact check?

        Paul Dornian
        President & CEO
        Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

        1. Valeria says:

          Thank you Paul Dornian!!

  5. Karl Grossemund says:

    Dear Norman,

    I think you have to review your methods. For many years I have been following you but lately I noticed that your level of criticism became very nonpolitical correct, apparently, you lost your grounds. Is very clear to me that you dislike Mr. Minczuk, or perhaps you are doing that on a mandate. You keep posting that Mr. Minczuk is a controversial maestro with the OSB, which is very untrue and was fabricated by people that failed to follow his lead.

    You never, never mentioned in a single post of yours, the accomplishments achieved by Mr. Minczuk to bring the OSB up to the international standards. When he was the music director of that institution, things were flowing, including sponsorship/support from many private institutions. OSB is a private orchestra not public as many think and required sponsorship to operate. When Mr. Minczuk left the OSB (he was not fired, he simply did not renew his contract) that orchestra became an institution with no credibility and went “unofficially”bankrupt, not been able to survive. It’s is all over the media in Brazil, you missed that.

    According to statements at the time, Mr. Minczuk left the OSB to dedicate his time 100% to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, at the end of a successful long term with that Orchestra. You just ignored that, perhaps you did not get paid for good stuff. It seems to me that you are more into the trash side of the world of art. Back to the OSB,

    Now, you did ignore Mr. Minczuk’s accomplishments in Calgary, leaving the Calgary Phil as one of the best orchestras in North America. I am not making that up, just do your own research and get updated. Your posting saying that Mr. Minczuk got a job is disgusting, poor, misinformed and of really bad taste, he simply got ONE MORE orchestra to conduct and work with, and again, through a very fair process. The NM Philharmonic Orchestra does have a reputation and a name, and selecting Mr. Minczuk will even boost their standards.

    Mr. Minczuk is a very well respected conductor in Canada and in North America, including in your own country, the UK. You also failed to post the Mr. Minczuk replaced a conductor (apparently your protege) that raped and sacked the finances of the municipal orchestra of the city of São Paulo. You failed not mention that Mr. Minczuk was carefully selected to reinstate the image of that orchestra. You failed in so many ways. I guess my best advice for you, is to get back to your principles, or, just retire. Your postings towards Mr. Minczuk are poor in so many ways and does not match with the real world of music.

    1. norman lebrecht says:

      Contrary to your assertion, I have no feelings one way or the other about Minczuk. He provoked an orchestral rebellion at OSB and paid the price for it. He was temporarily the subject of an international musicians’ boycott (you will find the details on Slipped Disc). The rest of his career has been inauspicious.

    2. E says:

      I was a member of the OSB during this entire period, and you have many facts wrong. The financials were in trouble long before Minczuk’s tenure ended. One of chief financial strains was that OSB had to rehire the musicians fired through Minczuk’s evaluation, first as a secondary chamber orchestra, then as reintegrated members who were exempt from performing with him. So you have an orchestra that must hire 20 or so subs when the principal conductor conducts, then tenured musicians for guest conductors…you can imagine the strain this puts on the group, financially and psychologically.

      Fact is, the 2011 process was an utter failure. The respectable thing to do would have been for those responsible to admit defeat and resign, and to allow the orchestra to heal.

      Of course the entire country and its arts scene have problems that go way beyond Minczuk, but that’s another discussion.

  6. CP says:

    Marcelo Lehninger got the Grand Rapids Symphony.

    Rune Bergmann got the Calgary Philharmonic.

    Were they “unsuccessful candidates” or just pulled out from the search?

    1. Albuquerque says:

      Pulled out from the search. See post above.

    2. Patience Lacy says:

      Marcelo Lehninger became Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony two years ago and is doing a fabulous job – with them and for them – so to say that he ‘pulled out early’ can only mean that he let it be known to the Selection Committee that he is now otherwise happily engaged!

  7. Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk says:

    Marcelo Lehninger was appointed Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony in June 2016. Rune Bergmann also a candidate for the position here in West Michigan. Both made a wonderful impression on the Grand Rapids Symphony and its audiences. So much so that Lehninger won the position, and Bergmann was engaged last year to return to Grand Rapids in October 2017.

    Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
    Senior Manager of Communications and Media Relations
    Grand Rapids Symphony

  8. Andy says:

    Apparently the Canadian government did not grant permanent residency to Roberto Minczuk, and so he and his family had to leave the country. New Mexico is as good a foothold as any in North America, I suppose, and a lot warmer than Calgary.

    Oddly, although the New Mexico Philharmonic has been around since 1932, Minczuk will be their first Music Director. They perform in a 1900+ seat hall, and their Classical Concerts series consists of eight single concerts, of which Minczuk will conduct five in his inaugural season (three with very young soloists):

    1
    STRAUSS Blue Danube Waltz
    BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 1
    MUSSORGSKY/RAVEL Pictures at an Exhibition

    2
    DE FALLA El amor brujo
    RODRIGO Fantasía para un Gentilhombre
    RAVEL La valse
    RAVEL Bolero

    3
    BRUCH Scottish Fantasy
    MAHLER Symphony No. 4

    4
    SMETANA The Moldau
    PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 1
    TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
    TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture

    5
    MOZART Concerto for Two Pianos
    PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 1
    BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7

    1. Albuquerque says:

      The NM Phil has only been around since 2011. We have had guest conductors for the first six seasons.

      Its predecessor, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, existed from 1932 to 2011 and had many music directors.


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