Orchestra founder quits

Orchestra founder quits


norman lebrecht

March 05, 2015

Joel Levine, who founded the Oklahoma City Philharmonic in 1988 and conducted it ever since, will step down in 2018, it was announced today.

joel levine


  • Joel Levine says:

    Hello Norman! I winced a little at the word “quits” because it could be read to mean that there was some kind of unhappiness or disagreement. That is often what happens as we know. In this case, it is really simple. I started here in 1979 as the Associate Conductor of the Oklahoma Symphony. When that orchestra closed in 1988, I founded the Philharmonic and by 2018 will have been music director for 29 years. Added to the previous job, that’s 39 years. I think the smart thing to for the institution is to give them plenty of notice so that there is time to have a careful, well thought out search. Since no one anywhere in the organization or the audience ever asked for a change, I had to initiate it myself. Darn it. Conspiracy buffs are free to check it out 🙂

  • JAMA11 says:

    Some might chose the word “retires.” Everything has to have a whiff of conflict here.

    • V.Lind says:

      Or you could use the term in today’s Arts Journal crawl, which is probably your source: “Steps Down.” I agree, my first thought when I saw “Quits” was that the gentleman was in a huff. Clearly not so.

  • Joel Levine says:

    Hello. I just wanted to clarify that the headline “quits” could be interpreted to mean there was something unpleasant about my stepping down in 2018. My first season here was in 1979-80 with the Oklahoma Symphony. That makes my total podium time here almost 40 years.
    Although absolutely no one suggested, or even hinted that I ought to stop, it seemed like a good idea for me to enjoy a well-earned rest and give the Philharmonic 3 years to do a careful and well planned search. So there’s no drama here!

  • baron z says:

    I auditioned for an orchestra there in 1985, so I was going to say the date must be wrong. But since they didn’t hire me, I guess that’s why they closed.