A second music director resigns in Israel

A second music director resigns in Israel


norman lebrecht

January 28, 2017

First, Zubin Mehta announces he’s leaving the Israel Philharmonic.

Now James Judd is stepping down from the struggling Israel Symphony Orchestra, Rishon Lezion.

Statement follows.

After an intense relationship with the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion, music director James Judd is stepping down. When he accepted the post in 2014 the orchestra’s CEO Ariel Cohen said “The meeting of the orchestra two years ago with James Judd was love at first sight. He was invited again and again to work with the orchestra, and the musicians and audience expressed great pleasure at these successful appearances. I have no doubt that the international reputation and experience of Maestro Judd and his charismatic personality will be of immense value to the orchestra both at home and abroad.” That proved correct, as critical acclaim was to show.

A year later, however, the orchestra’s board found itself in financial difficulties. James Judd wrote an open letter to them, in which he expressed dismay at the financial situation of the orchestra due to insufficient government budgeting and the difficulty of raising sufficient funds which threatened the existence of the orchestra and the livelihoods of its musicians. Having dedicated himself to the growth and excellence of the ensemble and closely involving himself in the activities of the orchestra (they toured China in November 2014, and received brilliant notices) as well as actively promoting the music of Israeli composers, he took the decision to forego with immediate effect his Music Director fee while nonetheless carrying on the many functions and duties which his position demanded, and urged the authorities to rethink their budgetary restrictions.

James Judd issued the following statement: “After 3 years of having the privilege of being Music Director, the financial situation faced by the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Le Zion has still not improved. Once more I urge State and City leaders to do more to enable their excellent music to be enjoyed by young and old. I thank the orchestra’s director, Ariel Cohen, and his wonderful staff for their great support and I wish the orchestra every success in its efforts to survive.”

He will assume the position of Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra from September this year and recently became Music Director of the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra in South Korea. Judd’s commitment to music education continues as Principal Conductor of the Asian Youth Orchestra, Music Director of the Little Orchestra Society in New York and as Founder of the Miami Music Project, an El Sistema inspired programme.