Orchestra votes 70-4 to reject music director

Orchestra votes 70-4 to reject music director


norman lebrecht

July 31, 2014

Musicians in Seville, Spain, are making their views known about the city’s next music director.

Pedro Halffter (pictured), who has been artistic director for the past ten years, is putting in for a renewal. The musicians called a ballot and voted against him, 70-4. The government, too, think he’s too expensive.

Two other Spaniards, Juanjo Mena and Guillermo Garcia Calvo, have refused to pitch for the vacancy. The remaining candidates are Marc Soustrot (France), Giacomo Sagripanti (Italy) György G. Rath (Hungary) Karel Mark Chichon (UK) and John Axelrod (US). May the best baton win.

halffter pedro


  • Jonas says:

    I can understand that Juanjo Mena refused, but Garcia Calvo? He has no position with an orchestra and his career is limited. He has no important dates and only does repertoire performances with some opera houses. If Calvo would have won Seville it would have been a big plus for him. Sounds to me that Calvo knew he had no chance so he preferred to leave so as to avoid been humiliated. From what I hear Humberto Oran from Musiespaña is the architect of the selection of conductors apart from exceptions. Strange that Axerlod and Halffter belonged to Oran’s agency but now they no longer do, just when the Seville process has began. Another of the many coincidences in the work of Oran. All of Spain knows that Oran is everything but honourable so I am sure there is dirty business going on.

  • Horacio says:

    I agree. How ridiculous. Garcia Calvo refusing the invitation like he can be compared to Juanjo Mena or any of the other candidates for that matter. He is not in their league.

  • Marcello says:

    Dear Jonas and Horacio, let’s please be serious and respectful about Garcia Calvo.
    First of all, we don’t know if he has been approached by Seville’s orchestra, by whom, and in which terms. Secondly, if he has indeed been offered the position, he must have his reasons in order not to take it, personal and/or professional and therefore I don’t think we have enough information to judge his decisions. But even more important, it is about his life and about his career , so qualifying his decisions as “ridiculous” I find it disrespectful and unacceptable.

  • Jonas says:

    Marcello (or is it Humberto?), please don’t confuse matters. Just because I
    share a different view of Garcia Calvo does not mean I am being
    disrespectful or not serious. I stated facts about Garcia Calvo’s career and
    gave my opinion as to why he probably refused the invitation from Seville. I
    did not say he was a bad conductor or unable to do his job or anything that
    was disrespectful. The point of my comment was that I took issue with
    placing Garcia Calvo in the same reference as Juanjo Mena when Mena has a
    distinguished career and Calvo does not. Comparing Mena to Calvo is in my
    view ridiculous. I also took issue that both of these artists belong to
    Oran’s agency and that El Mundo article goes some way to stress why they
    refused the invitation. It sounds again like the sinister work of Oran who
    seems not to be able to allow things to take its course. In any case,
    whoever wins this competition is not going to be represented by Oran and to
    me that means that Oran is finally going to get what should have been coming
    a long time ago – that without the support from the Halffter family and the
    sad death of de Burgos (may he rest in peace) he is no longer a major force
    in the classical music scene in Spain and that people are tired of his dirty
    laundry. Be that as it may, Calvo is a conductor and as such in the public
    eye where he should be ready to accept comments about him including
    criticism. If you don’t like that then you should convince Calvo to dedicate
    himself to something else away from the public.

  • Marcello says:

    Dear Jonas, I am not talking about Oran, and definitely not interested about that subject, but you are rather obsessed about it as you like talking about it (while the article is talking about the orchestra in Seville and the potential candidates).
    I am talking about Garcia Calvo and his decision not to accept the offer of that job, even though as I said, we don’t know if that happened and in which terms. It is not serious from my point of view to judge without having the information to do so.
    Something else: you talked about them as being compared, while no one is comparing them. (but you.) They are 2 different conductors, with different age, in a different stage of their careers, period, and if Mr. Calvo decided not to take the job is his business and you have no idea why he decided to do so.

  • Edward says:

    Dear Marcello, it seems to be that you are the one obsessed in making Garcia Calvo something he is not. In so doing, all you do is give more validity to all the points made earlier about him. You need to learn to respect other people’s opinions and not deem them unserious or disrespectful because you don’t like what they say. And one more thing – if Calvo works for Oran then he is part of all that is Oran, whether you and he likes it or not.

  • Marcello says:

    Still talking about Oran!!:))
    You better take care of yourself and your life instead! Best wishes

  • Tristan says:

    Very interesting debate above by professionals clearly well-informed about the inner workings of Spain’s classical music scene. I had no knowledge of Humberto Oran or his agency, Musiespana, but they are certainly on my radar now.


    I would tend to agree with Jonas in this discussion because there is absolutely no reason to bring Garcia Calvo’s name into the Music Director of Sevilla except as an agent’s publicity stunt with the press. He’s not even close to being in the right league. The mention of him in the same breath as Mena as having turned down the job is a joke.

    So I looked up this agency of Huberto Oran and see that while there are a few artists of quality on his roster, there are some really dubious conductors. I sympathize with Mr. Oran that he’s stuck with trying to promote some pretty unpopular clients, but making up stories and going to the press with it is a transparent strategy.


  • Violagran says:

    I think all of you miss the point. Mena is not a god and I have personally experienced some very clear examples of mediocrity and lack of control on his part which doesn’t make him the best candidate as an opera conductor. He,as with many other conductors (Igartiburu’s boyfriend included) depend much more on press,gossip,pushy managers and lies to claw themselves to the top than pure musicianship and technique. The orchestra should take a large part in the decision making based upon who has worked the best with them in the past. What is most amazing here is that it taken so long for there to be a reaction against Halfter. I’ve talked to certain individuals in La Junta that wanted him out years ago and with the economy the way it has been for so long, there is no reason to have paid so much a given so much power to such a pathetic cunductor.

  • Jonas says:

    Violagran’s comments are really something. Now Juanjo Mena’s conducting is close to mediocrity whilst Garcia Calvo should be respected. If there is something that is pathetic it is these clear double standards by people who either don’t know what they are talking about or they change their own moral standards when they don’t like what they read. In short, Calvo is simply not at Mena’s level and it is an insult to Mena’s career to be compared to Calvo in any shape or form. When Calvo achieves half of what Mena has achieved in his musical career then we can talk again. Learn to live with that.