US orch chief heads for the wilderness

US orch chief heads for the wilderness


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2016

Paul Meecham, the quiet-spoken British president of the Baltimore Symphony is out, after ten years of uphill struggle. Baltimore, as we reported recently, is a city spiralling into decline.

The orchestra has its centenary coming up next year but cannot raise enough cash to put on an extravagant celebration. It may be that Paul is paying the price for matters beyond his control.

He has, however, a jot to go to. It’s the Utah Symphony.

Warmer than Baltimore. Less pressure. We will him well.

Paul said today: ‘If you had asked me a year ago if I would leave Baltimore, I would have said, ‘Are you out of your mind,’ but these Utah people are very, quietly persuasive… It’s an intriguing prospect…

‘I first said, ‘No, thank you,’ but as I started to talk with them more it started to coalesce. The Utah Symphony is an orchestra definitely on the rise. And I am intrigued by the combination of orchestra and opera, an art form I’ve always loved.’

paul meecham


  • Rosemary Forbes-Butler says:

    I’ve known Paul a long time and love his energy and determination.
    Good for him

  • Andrew Constantine says:

    Baltimore’s loss is definitely Utah’s gain. Paul is excellent and will do a wonderful job there as he has here in Baltimore!

  • Holly Golightly says:

    I wish this conductor well in his new posting!! And it’s dreadful what’s happening in Baltimore. This only goes to show that art music flourishes when the society can afford the significant infrastructure required for it.

  • Doug says:

    That’s what happens when you “give them room to destroy.”

  • Madeline Adkins says:

    Having worked with Paul for 10 years now, I am confident that he is going to be an excellent fit for Utah. I am very much looking forward to continuing my work with him once I arrive!

  • BSOFan says:

    I’m not sure Utah is much warmer than Baltimore – it’s certainly got a drier climate. Wishing Paul all the best in his new endeavor, he has certainly done a great deal of great work in Baltimore.

  • Dorothy Alba says:

    At the end of the article it says that the Associate Concertmaster Madeline Adkins is also going to Utah to become their Concertmaster. That’s an interesting twist or coincidence? What’s going on in Baltimore that so many are jumping ship at once?

  • Nicht Schleppend says:

    “Baltimore, as we reported recently, is a city spiralling into decline.”

    [redacted: abuse]
    2) Had you spent more time in our city than a day or two to do the bare minimum of investigating for an article that largely regurgitates popular opinion based on The Wire alone, you would realize that the situation in Baltimore is so much more complex. Yes, abject poverty abounds thanks to decades of corruption and systematic oppression. But if anything, Baltimore is on the rise. The riots were a wake-up call. That corrupt system may not be gone, but it’s exposed. We read about new initiatives every week that are at least trying to do some modicum of good in those violence-torn neighborhoods. The BSO’s OrchKids just received a $500,000 grant to sustain and expand its work to keep kids off the street in the times they’d be most tempted to turn to crime. Under Armour is building and revitalizing community centers. Who knows what effect these people working to turn the tides will have, but the effort is there. Call me a starry-eyed optimist, but that doesn’t sound like spiraling into decline to me.

    Oh, and not to mention the fact that more and more professionals are choosing the vibrant arts, food and nightlife scene in Baltimore when they’re priced out of New York and DC.

    Paul did great work for the BSO, and he will continue to do so for Utah – but despite what this headline would have us believe, this is not some kind of desert-the-sinking-ship situation.

  • Truth Detector says:

    Less riots, better skiing!