Ousted orchestra boss lands new job inside a week

The former chief executive of the Suisse Romande orchestra, finding the exit a week ago, has got himself a new job in less time that it takes to find a competent head-hunter.

Henk Swinnen, 46, was announced tonight as artistic director of the Royal Flanders Philharmonic in Antwerp. He starts on May 1.

His first task will be to find a successor to Edo de Waart as music director. And this time he should remember to get a signature on the maestro’s contract.

henk swennen

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  • Aside from not conducting, what is the distinction between “artistic director” and “music director” for an organization that is primarily a musical one?

    • An artistic director at an orchestra organizes the programs, in discussion with the chief conductor. Organizing programs includes much more than purely musical considerations, like balance of content over an entire season, soloists to be contracted, contacts with radio, looking at what the competition does, audience building, looking into marketing problems, discussing tour projects, and relating the outcomes with the conductor and especially, the financial department upon which the entire organization is dependent. The conductor’s wishes have to take the limitations of the organization into consideration and the artistic director is his contact person in these matters. Passed have the days when a conductor simply was ‘the boss’ and could perform what he wanted.

  • Congratulations to Henk on his new position. I wish him lots of happiness and success. It does not surprise me that Henk picked himself up, dusted himself off and started all over again in no time, landing an even more senior position after his abrupt ending at his soon-to-be-former employer. Let’s guess how long the members of the staff and board who engineered his unexpected departure would take to do the same. Actually, let’s not even bother.

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