Maestro move: Memphis signs the one it turned down last time

Maestro move: Memphis signs the one it turned down last time


norman lebrecht

October 02, 2015

The Memphis Symphony, which has told music director Mei-Ann Chen it can’t afford to keep her, has hired Robert Moody as principal conductor. Moody, 42, lost out to Chen in 2010 when both auditioned for the job.

The future sounds bleak: Symphony board chairwoman Gayle Rose said the board decided to hire Moody, a frequent guest conductor with the MSO in recent years, as “principal conductor” to provide artistic stability while the orchestra continues to emerge from recent financial difficulties.

photo: Arielle Doneson


  • Michael Barar says:

    As I have commented before, Ms. Chen is not being let go because the Memphis Symphony cannot afford her. Her contract is up. When it was renewed a few years ago, it was done so with an understanding that there would be no further renewals. That’s not the sort of thing that gets aired much outside the organization, but it is a fact.
    Now, the appointment of Mr. Moody in a sort of interim capacity absent a music director search could point to continued financial strain, but that is unrelated to Ms. Chen’s departure.

    • Ppellay says:

      Michael, your efforts at ensuring that the proper information is disseminated are certainly appreciated by me and many others, but this particular site has always been notoriously refractory to such efforts that don’t fit its “classical music is in its death throes” agenda.
      My two cents’ worth: what Mr Moody’s appointment points to is the MSO taking some needed steps to ensure that it continues its path to stabilisation with as few derailments as possible. This is a work in progress, and likely to continue to be so for a while. But one thing I can say: the MSO is here to stay. Long may it do so.

  • Lauren says:

    How did you get “Memphis Symphony…told music director Mei-Ann Chen it can’t afford to keep her?” I clicked the links you inserted, and there is no indication of that. Rather, her contract is expiring and she’s taking other opportunities. Why do you find the need to sensationalize? Also, as Michael Barar stated above, that Mr. Moody did not “lose out” to Ms. Chen, as he was considered for a Pops Conductor role, a post which the Symphony ended up deciding not to create.

    Do you enjoy your reputation of misinformation, Norman?