Voting has begun at the Berlin Philharmonic

At 10 o’clock this morning, 124 players of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra parked their Mercs and mountain bikes at a secret location* in order to elect their next music director. The winner will sicceed Sir Simon Rattle in mid-2018.

All tenured players with voting rights were required to attend; there are no postal or proxy votes. Players were required to leave their mobile phones and electronic devices at the door.

There are unlikely to be any leaks before the result is announced. On the past two occasions, 1990 and 1999, this has been in the late afternoon.

After the public withdrawal of four leading candidates, the discussion will centre on the relative merits of:

– Christian Thielemann, music director in Dresden

– Riccardo Chailly, music director in Leipzig and La Scala, Milan

– Andris Nelsons, music director in Boston

– Kirill Petrenko, music director of Bavarian State Opera

– and any compromise candidate that may arise in discussion.

We await a puff of white smoke from this pristine chapel.

berlin philharmonie

photo: Johann Sebastian Hänel/Archiv Berliner Philharmoniker

* UPDATE: No longer secret. See here.


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  • Also, the players will not be allowed to eat or to drink, and will not have access to the Philharmonie’s toilet spaces, as to speed-up the process. (These procedures have been copied from the Vatican.)

    • Oh, good. A constipated vote, followed by the verbal diarrhoea of various spokesplayers explaining their choice of Thielemann or Thielemann.

  • … secret is out, they have gathered at the Jesus Christus Kirche Berlin Dahlem … it has just been on the radio…

  • I’m hoping that the BPO elects a conductor who both respects its past and is willing to take the orchestra forward. I’m worried that the choice of Thielemann might be regressive and turn back the clock. I’m hoping they can have someone who is similar to Abbado’s temperament and deportment as a worthy successor to Rattle.

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