Eschy, in his last season, adds 3 new faces to Washington orch

Eschy, in his last season, adds 3 new faces to Washington orch


norman lebrecht

August 30, 2016

press release:

(WASHINGTON)—National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) Music Director Christoph Eschenbach and Executive Director Rita Shapiro announce the appointment of three new musicians to the NSO roster, effective September 6, 2016: Peter Cain, bass clarinet/clarinet; Eugena Chang, section cello; and Robert Rearden, second horn.

Peter Cain joins the NSO from the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, where he has served as Acting Second Clarinet/E♭ Clarinet since 2015. He has previously held positions with the Dayton Philharmonic and Knoxville Symphony Orchestras.

Eugena Chang has been a member of the Minnesota Orchestra cello section since 2007, when she graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music after studying with Orlando Cole, Peter Wiley, and William Stokking, and serving as principal cello of the Curtis Orchestra.

Robert Rearden served as principal horn of the Florida Orchestra from 2010–2016. He has performed regularly as an extra and substitute player with the Cleveland Orchestra, including multiple recordings and tours of Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and was a member of the New World Symphony from 2006 to 2010. He also appeared frequently as guest principal horn of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra from 2010 to 2015.



  • John from Bethesda says:

    These are certainly fine musicians, but they are also fortunate musicians, in that they will soon be working with Maestro Noseda, who will, no doubt, turn the orchestra around for the better. The years under Christoph Eschenbach’s uninspired direction of the NSO have the orchestra often sounding tired, bored and annoyed with Eschenbach’s idiosyncratic and self indulgent interpretations and many in the audience annoyed as well. Rarely have I ever attended concerts of the NSO, under previous conductors, where one just feels that the conductor couldn’t give a damn about the orchestra and the public. It seems that the same situation that took place in Philadelphia, when Eschenbach was Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, that I have read about online in so many articles, has also happened in Washington. How many more orchestras and audiences does Eschenbach get to demoralize and bore before managers and agents realize that this man spells disaster when made a Music Director? I also have heard many donors grumbling that Eschenbach is being paid the highest salary of any Music Director anywhere in the world! This is outrageous and the NSO management should be held accountable for having allowed this man to extort the funds that are ever harder to raise and then turning in one bad performance after another. Hopefully, once he is gone at the end of the coming season, things will brighten up and I have only good things to say about Mr. Noseda from the concerts I heard with him and from what others are saying.

    • PaulD says:

      I would not characterize Eschenbach’s salary as having been ‘extorted’. Nobody forced the Kennedy Center to meet his demands. Kennedy Center management is responsible for it. How do you make management accountable? By telling the next fund raising caller that you are not renewing your membership and are giving your money to an orchestra that truly needs it. I’ve redirected my donations elsewhere.

  • REGERFAN says:

    Well Eschy is certainly a regular punching bag on Slipped Disc. Although I don’t think he is a truly great conductor, I tend to be more satisfied with his concerts than my fellow concertgoer. As my handle indicates, I like my stew of post-Wagner-Bruckner-Mahler-Zemlinsky-Austro-German-fin de siècle. Eschy used to serve that up for me. I have to concur that the muscians aren’t happy and that he was way overpaid. I’m hoping that Noseda will provide me with some challenging listening.

    I think that Hell for Norman Lebrecht is Eschy conducting Max Reger and getting a 10000 Euro prize for it.

  • Jon H says:

    There were some moments of magic too. It wasn’t like every concert was destined for an SACD release – and I’m sure the players saved him sometimes – but his approach was nice for an evening.

    • Jon H says:

      One thing people say is how music directors “improve” orchestras – but for the past 30 years in America at least, quality has had more to do with the financial health and how the musicians are compensated. The music directors may have artistic say over programming, and the musical results they get at their concerts – but there was a time when music directors hired and fired at will, and the sound was very much under their control in those circumstances. Nowadays musicians stay for their careers – and in some ways that makes it difficult to improve – some great musicians lose their technique and others stay not so great – that makes no difference. Yes, every orchestra has musicians that aren’t quite at the level of the best – and so, in America the quality of the top dozen orchestras actually remain very close. The differences in quality people are hearing, is in the work of the conductor. And when a new conductor or guest conductor appears, they may initially feel the work of the previous conductor, but during rehearsals the whole thing tends to adjust to the current conductor.
      To take an example, the difference between Barenboim in Chicago followed by Haitink – the change in sound was immediate. The musicians were the same – but for that amount of change to happen, it was all the conductor’s. A good conductor can make a lot of difference very quickly – just knowing how to work with what they have. And a lot of times in history, credit has been given to conductors when all they did was bring in “better” musicians. But those days are gone – unless the music director is like Zubin Mehta who’s seen multiple generations of musicians in Israel.

  • MacroV says:

    Eschenbach did not “add” three new faces. The orchestra filled three vacancies. If the NSO is like most American orchestras, a committee of musicians probably had most of the influence in making the selection; the influence of the music director varies according to the master agreement. The fact that Eschenbach is in his final season is pretty much beside the point.

  • Arthur says:

    The little guy who used to work for DG, until he was no longer wanted, and later worked for “Eschy” until he got himself fired, seems to have too much free time nowadays. He is using it up contributing venomous comment to this column. Readers beware! One “man” is behind most of the hateful comments you will read chez Lebrecht .