Concertmaster quits rising orchestra

Concertmaster quits rising orchestra


norman lebrecht

May 09, 2015

After three seasons with a revitalised Seattle Symphony, the Russian-born Alexander Velinzon has announced his return to Boston. He was assistant concertmaster of the Boston Symphony for seven years before Seattle came calling.

We understand that Velinzon was the personal pick of music director Ludovic Morlot, selected above five internal and five external candidates. His tenure was unsettled by recent changes to the musicians’ contract and demands for a reaudition. He was facing a players’ vote on Friday, but quit an hour or two before the ballot was held.

His departure is a setback for Morlot, who said: ‘Alex is a wonderful artist. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to share his talents with our orchestra and community. I’m grateful for the many hours of music we made together, and sincerely wish him all the best for his future in Boston.’


UPDATE: Velinzon has remained throughout on the BSO roster and shuttled frequently back from Seattle.


  • Paul Sullivan says:

    Mr. Velizon is still on the BSO 1st Violin roster and listed as being on sabbatical and while
    I knew he had taken up the concertmaster,I hadn’t quite realized how much time had passed. With Velizon gone, the BSO had a a tough time in the 2013 season when concertmaster Malcolm Lowe and associate concertmaster Tamara Smirnova were out due to shoulder surgery. Assistant CM Elita Kang did a fantastic job filling in.

    Ludovic Merlot did a stint as assistant conductor with the BSO from 2004 to 2007.

    • Jim Levinson says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Elita Kang should be noted in the annals of the BSO as one of the orchestra’s true heroes…and, needless to say, a super musician.

      And Velinzon’s return is one more tribute to Andris Nelsons and his extraordinary rapport with the orchestra. (When have we heard the first and second violin sections playing like they’re playing now?)

  • Frankster says:

    Sounds like there the more coming on this story…

  • herrera says:

    Let’s see:

    Seattle or Boston? Morlot or Nelsons? Sir-Mix-A-Lot or Shostakovich? Deutsche Gramophone? Touring European capitals with stops at Musikverein and Philharmonie? Symphony Hall? Tanglewood?

    So tough…

    • MacroV says:

      I speak as a biased native, but Seattle is the nicest city in the United States. The orchestra isn’t the BSO but it’s extremely good, and Concertmaster is a better job than not-concertmaster.

      I suspect this is not a Seattle vs. Boston contest, but a matter of internal politics in Seattle.

  • Will says:

    But it sounds like the return to Boston wasn’t entirely his choice. Not clear how the Seattle vote would have gone or what brought that about.

    Yet surely holding onto the BSO post demonstrates a lack of commitment that would not sit well with the Seattle players.

  • Stephen Owades says:

    I’ve observed that every player who leaves a chair in a major American orchestra for another position, he or she goes “on sabbatical” from the original group, in case the new post doesn’t work out for whatever reason: not receiving tenure in the new job; not liking the working environment, colleagues, or conductor; or doubts about the future of the new organization. Mr. Velinzon was on an extended sabbatical from Boston while he served as Seattle’s concertmaster, and in the end he chose to return to the BSO.

  • Mathieson says:

    Mr. Velinzon had previously had a tenure review and the resulting votes were unfavorable. He was given an optional year to stay in Seattle and re-vote was to have taken place within days of this article. This is old news that you can find on auditions forums.

  • milka says:

    What a stinking little group this is ..all they do is cover their rear ends while hoping around from place to place committing themselves to nothing except whatever they think will
    give them more prestige and extra bucks .Dedicated to nothing but their second rate talents . That orchestras allow this game of” extended sabbaticals ” shows the moral bankruptcy in the world of symphony players .

  • Max h. says:

    Milka is spot on. Jumping place to place get a few bucks more and some ego feeding with their USA narcopathic mental derangements. 2 nd rate talents and shyster admin schmoozing billionaires to fund their anemic organizations. Is Julie landman still airy fluffing and selling students happy talk?

  • Gus says:

    Another american hustler. They have NO loyality or honor to their organization–they flit around looking for the endless lust for dinero and ego stroking. Values—?!? Hustling for money? And then they wonder why the seats are empty and there’ s a sea of elderly folks. Honor counts, or is it american hustling?.