And the next music director is….

And the next music director is….


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2016

Slipped Disc was the first to tip Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as the next music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. We knew what the players wanted and we called it right.

Now, with strong conviction but slightly less confidence in the outcome, we are happy to confide that, as of this moment, the favourite to succeed Jaap van Zweden at the Dallas Symphony is … Karina Canellakis.

Karina, 34, has risen like a rocket in the past year. She won major agency representation at AskonasHolt and was first in line to step in for Niklaus Harnoncourt when the early-music maestro subsided into retirement.

This weekend she covered triumphantly for Van Zweden when he was summoned to Holland for a family emergency. Local media attributed her success to Van Zweden’s tutelage; she is in her second year as his assistant conductor. But local musicians tell us she has got what it takes.

For want of compelling international contenders on the Dallas guest list – the top names are James Gaffigan and Joshua Weilerstein – Karina can be considered a front-runner.

And if she doesn’t win Dallas by the summer, she will be head-hunted somewhere else.

karina canellakis




  • Trevor Rosen says:

    Let’s hope. She completely deserves it.

    • Olassus says:

      Norman’s speculation will depend less on the buzz among the musicians than on whether the Dallas board feels it can raise funds effectively with a woman out front.

      • Trevor Rosen says:

        I’m quite sure that EVERYONE at DSO would be more than happy to get behind her. Could be the making of the city actually. She is a very special thing and should be cherished wherever she is.

        • Olassus says:

          Well, my last Dallas concert was at Fair Park Music Hall with Eduardo Mata conducting, so have no clue what the board might be thinking these days. On the other hand, Texas remains a conservative state … .

  • SY says:

    I played under both Mirga and Karina recently. Karina is foremost a true and deep musican who possess both temperament and intellect. What’s so impressive about her to me, besides all the great qualities of her conducting talent, is that she could effortlessly get an orchestra to play the most subtle nuances in a way that not many conductors, even famous ones, can achieve. It was truly inspiring to play under her, a feeling validated by enthusiasm she receives from respected colleagues of mine elsewhere. I am excited to see the emergence of such a rare talent in American classical music scene.

  • Peter says:

    The heat is on. Don’t burn her.
    I hope if they take her, they are wise to give her a long contract with many weeks a year, so she doesn’t have to travel much but can develop repertoire and as a musician in a secure, musically and sonically known, environment.
    Young conductors need stability first of all, for growth.

  • Geer says:

    I hope the british can pronounce her name comes to rescue?

  • Carole says:

    Rooting for her!

  • RW2013 says:

    Not young, blonde or female enough.
    Whatever happened to the “extensive international search” ?

    • Halldor says:

      The number of fine musicians who miss out on major posts for not being young, blonde or female enough is surely infinitesimal compared to those who’ve missed out for not being old, male or Central European enough.

      • Doug says:

        Do you realise by “Central” European you exclude German, French, Italian, Spanish, Belgium, Netherlands, and the UK?

        • R.James Tobin says:

          Germany certainly qualifies as in Central Europe. When there was an iron curtain it was West rather than East.

  • Stuard Young says:

    I am very happy to read from SY that Karina has the ability to “effortlessly get an orchestra to play subtle nuances”. This is a quality I have found very much missing from Jaap Van Zweden’s performances in Philadelphia.

    • SY says:

      Most conductors try to do subtle nuances, but usually end with exaggerated and pompous results. From my brief experience playing under her baton, music felt very alive, tasteful, and flowing.

  • dorset richard says:

    Gaffigan is an outstanding young conductor, more experienced and probably a better bet than karina

  • Steven Ledbetter says:

    I was very impressed with Katrina at Tanglewood in 2014. She was featured in a series of weekly films about 6 Fellows that summer (the others were instrumentalists and a singer). There you can see her being coached, rehearsing, and performing. Available on YouTube.

  • Erik Gyle says:

    So far, the only thing aparrent about her one way or another is that she knows how to tweet – already an advantage in the conducting world. As for musicianship – who can judge without hearing? Hopefully, DSO will post the radio broadcast online for people to make informed, rather than speculative, opinions.