Exclusive: Seattle picks concertmaster, loses more players

Exclusive: Seattle picks concertmaster, loses more players


norman lebrecht

October 26, 2015

We hear (unofficially) that Nathan Cole of the Los Angeles Phil has won the concertmaster audition at the Seattle Symphony. He will replace Alexander Velinzon who has gone back to his old job as assistant concertmaster in Boston.

nathan cole


Also leaving Seattle are two more front desk violinists – gone to San Francisco Ballet and Australia – a flute player who went to Dallas, 3rd trumpet who returned to the Met and Ben Lulich who won the conveted principal clarinet role in Cleveland.

That’s high turnover.



  • milka says:

    Did he take an extended sabbatical until a better job shows up ?

  • OhReally..... says:

    It should be noted that those two “front desk violinists” also tried out for the concertmaster job and would have gladly stayed……yet they failed to win the job.

    [redacted: trash]

  • milka says:

    A deplorable bunch…..

  • MacroV says:

    Let’s not overplay the significance here; every one of these moves is rational:

    Velinzon went back to Boston – I don’t know if he truly preferred being an Assistant CM in Boston than the CM in Seattle, or maybe it was a mutual decision.

    Demarre McGill left his job as principal flute TWO YEARS AGO for the same job in Dallas; still a higher-profile and probably better paid orchestra.

    One of those front-desk violinists left to become concertmaster of the SF Ballet Orchestra. Evidently a better job; CM usually is.

    Can’t imagine why a 3rd trumpet would come to Seattle from the same job at the MET, so understandable he’d go back after his probationary period.

    Seattle is a fine orchestra and the city is the best place in America to live (though getting expensive). But even that is unlikely to keep Ben Lulich from going to Cleveland to be principal clarinet in one of the very best orchestras in the world.

    Move on, now.

  • Itsjtime says:

    And… Most importantly…Nathan is a first class musician. He is the kind of guy we all want to play with. Equal parts talent, diligence and intelligence. A born leader and a gentleman.
    Good luck in Seattle!

  • Milka says:

    M2N2k I perhaps know the field as well as you , being in it for many decades .As for the lesson in semantics -the difference between sabbatical and leave of absence can often be described by this : a man is sitting at a bar next to a beautiful woman , he propositions her
    she is outraged ,he quiets down for a while then offers her few hundred bucks , she is more than outraged ,threatens to tell bar tender & call police etc . man is quiet for a long time then offers thousand bucks ,she hesitates thinking it over,man then says “fine! at least
    we know what you are ,it is just a matter of money. Lesson for the day ………..

    • M2N2K says:

      That is a rather long way of confirming your ignorance: money is not the only difference. And you have still failed to show what is so “deplorable” about taking a leave of absence.

      • Milka says:

        This is all beyond you ……dense is too kind a description ..

        • M2N2K says:

          As I expected – you have no idea about any of this: you don’t know the important differences between sabbaticals and leaves of absence (after “being in the field for many decades” such ignorance is rather embarrassing), and, perhaps even more important, you have absolutely no justification for calling people names: for example, you have not named a single wrong thing about an orchestral musician taking a leave of absence. All your insults say a lot about you and nothing whatsoever about the subject of the post.