The outgoing principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera has bucked the current trend of replacing older orchestral musicians with inexpensive young ones.
Here are his contributions to a running Slipped Disc debate:
Orchestras NEED older musicians, they bring experience, wisdom, knowledge and – yes! – they can also help young music directors to find their real way if they (the music directors) trust them (the older musicians) and learn from their experience. Of course, they know so much, they have played such a huge repertoire with a lot of different conductors – many among them were excellent conductors. Young conductors fear this kind of experience, because it forces them to compare themselves with important musicians – conductors – of the past. Older musicians carry this tradition and they are able to tell if the young conductor has valuable ideas or …. he is just musically arrogant.
I can understand that at times there (are) musicians in orchestras who are beyond their zenith. In that case, it has always been important to me to protect them, e.g. convincing them to switch to a less exposed position, if possible. Firing them has never been an option for me. In any case I just wanted to make a statement about something which seems to me to becoming usual for new appointed music directors, especially if young or afraid of experienced musicians (who could be seen as a threat to them, because of their knowledge and experience). I always tried to learn from my musicians, especially the older ones, in every orchestra I was so fortunate to be music director.