Editorial: NY Philharmonic in chaos as boss walks outmain
Two pieces fell off the board last week and no-one saw where they pointed.
First, Ed Yim resigned as v-p of artistic planning, a key liaison between the chief executive and the music director.
Then, Lisa Mantone resigned after just as year as v-p in charge of fundraising.
Taken together, those defections spelled bad news on the two most important fronts. Confusion on the artistic and no money coming in from donors. And only Slipped Disc bothered to report them both.
Matthew VanBesien, who after eight years playing horn in the Louisiana Philharmonic, made a fine career as an orchestra manager – Houston Symphony, Melbourne, New York – called time on frontline service and swanned off to work out his time on an arboreal campus in the Midwest.
Why he had to go will become clear in the coming days, but what he leaves behind is chaos and confusion.
VanBesien was responsible for persuading the players to accept Jaap Van Zweden as the next music director. The Dutchman is neither an international front-runner nor a charismatic character but the combination of the two Vans was supposed to be the formula that led the Philharmonic through a difficult period while its hall is refurbished.
That plan just bit the dust.
The three months’ notice that VanBesien has given is extremely abrupt by orchestra standards.
The future is anyone’s guess. But from today’s news it does not inspire confidence.
UPDATE: VanBesien: I want a more audacious job.
Here’s the press release the NY Phil have just scrambled together, an hour after Michigan announced its coup.
MATTHEW VANBESIEN TO STEP DOWN AS PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC IN MAY 2017
Team Led by Board Chairman Oscar S. Schafer and Vice Chairman Peter W. May Will
Lead Search Committee for Next President
New York Philharmonic Board Chairman Oscar S. Schafer today announced that Matthew VanBesien, who has served as President of the Philharmonic since 2012, will step down from the position on May 1, 2017. A search for a new president will begin immediately, conducted by a committee led by Mr. Schafer and which will include Vice Chairman Peter W. May, Jaap van Zweden, the Philharmonic’s future Music Director, and Members of the Board of Directors.
“Matthew has been a tremendous leader during his tenure at the New York Philharmonic and we thank him for all that he has accomplished,” said Mr. Schafer. “We have seen incredible strides in our artistic and institutional achievements, with initiatives like the NY PHIL BIENNIAL and the New York Philharmonic Global Academy; selected an excellent and charismatic Music Director in Jaap van Zweden to lead the artistic future of the Philharmonic; and made great progress on the David Geffen Hall renovation project under his presidency. We are confident that Matthew’s successor will build on his accomplishments, ensure the continued success of David Geffen Hall, and take us to even greater heights in the years ahead.”
“It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to lead the New York Philharmonic over the past five years,” said Mr. VanBesien. “The Board, the Staff, and the Artists have all inspired me each and every day to build on the vision that has made the institution one of the preeminent performing arts organizations for the past 175 years. The decision to take a new position was deeply personal, and I felt the time was right to take on a new challenge. I leave with the confidence that this organization is in great shape, particularly as it heads into a new era under Jaap van Zweden, and I look forward to seeing all the amazing things the New York Philharmonic will accomplish in the future.”
“I would like to thank Matthew VanBesien and to salute him for what he has done for the Philharmonic,” said Alan Gilbert, Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. “It has been a pleasure working with Matthew, and every day I have cherished the opportunity to interact with someone who loves the tradition of orchestras, but also sees the way to a new paradigm in the 21st century.”
Oscar Schafer, in conjunction with Peter May, will work with Bill Thomas, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, to ensure a seamless transition and successful continuation of all the Philharmonic’s programs and initiatives.
In partnership with Lincoln Center, there has been significant progress made on the David Geffen Hall renovation project, which has raised nearly $300 million to date, and continues to move forward with work on the schematic design.
“Fundraising is very strong, and we are hard at work on a design process,” continued Mr. Schafer. “This is a very exciting time in the course of our history, and we look forward to identifying a new president who will bring the next chapter in the long, great history of the Philharmonic to life.”
During his tenure at the New York Philharmonic, Matthew VanBesien has helped develop and execute innovative programs along with Music Director Alan Gilbert, such as the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, THE ART OF THE SCORE film-and-music series, and more. He led the creation of the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, which offers educational partnerships with cultural institutions such as the Music Academy of the West and The Shephard School of Music at Rice University to train talented pre-professional musicians, often alongside performance residencies by the Philharmonic. He led a successful Music Director search, resulting in Jaap van Zweden’s being appointed as Music Director Designate in the 2017-18 season, the formation of the Philharmonic’s International Advisory Board and President’s Council, and the Philharmonic’s multi-year residency and educational partnership in Shanghai, China.