Orchestra loses two conductors for the same concert

Orchestra loses two conductors for the same concert


norman lebrecht

November 08, 2017

Cristian Măcelaru called in sick for this week’s concert with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Glasgow.

They called in Sergey Neller as replacement.

Then Neller was unable to make it.

Hit the phones for 12 hours. They finally landed the Venezuelan José Luis Gomez, music director in Tucson, who got off the plane this morning with a score of Shostakovich 12 in his pocket.

He’s rehearsing right now.

The concert consists of the World Premiere of UK Composer Daniel Kidane’s Zulu, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No3, Rachmininov Vocalise and Shostakovich 12th symphony.



  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Good luck, Jose Luis! Feel better, Cristian and Sergey!!

  • Bruce says:

    That must be quite a pocket 🙂

  • Jojo says:

    Bringuier is sick this week with Tonhalle Zurich.

  • John Borstlap says:

    These are the nerve-wrecking occurrances which keep the art form alive in a feverish, but not altogether pleasant way. It is especially nerve-wrecking for the composer, having worked feverishly on his piece to get the deadline and looking anxiously forward to its performance and then seeing fate playing its last minute games. Especially unpleasant if being stressed is a preferred subject:


    …. not to speak of the pianist who will have worked-up his utmost capabilities for Rach III.

    The most spectacular rescue I have witnessed was by french conductor Jean-Paul Penin, who was called to take-over a programme with three meaty modern works among which a large Villa-Lobos work with choir, all quite rare fare. No conductor could be found with any of these pieces in his repertoire, neither had Penin, but the evening before the concert day – the concert was on the following afternoon – he jumped on a plane, and learned the three big scores overnight without a minute sleep, rehearsed in the morning and led a brilliant performance of all works in the afternoon, which was a hughe audience success.

  • manu says:

    I am a bit surprised nobody mentions Diego Martin-Etxebarria, a major talent winner of the Tokyo Competition, first winner in the last 20 years…

  • english man says:

    Such a pity there aren’t any conductors living in Europe who were free that week

  • Wurtfangler says:

    I doubt so many hours were spent on the phone to the one agent of both Neller and Gomez. And it would happen the week when all the local conductors were away wouldn’t it. Typical.

  • Mark Perlman says:

    This is why American orchestras all have assistant conductors or have lined up cover conductors, who have studied the music, and are ready and available to jump in when a conductor is ill or “indisposed”. No need for such frantic searching. I can’t understand why European orchestras don’t have them – it seems irresponsible to so unprepared for these foreseeable circumstances.

    • Wurtfangler says:

      Would you believe it, but the RSNO DOES have an assistant conductor who I am sure would have jumped at the chance! Clearly the RSNO felt it was more important to keep the agent happy and have some flashy publicity, than to give their hard-working assistant the sort of break that makes a career.

      • Halldor says:

        Or maybe the assistant had no desire to make a possibly career-wrecking debut with a programme they didn’t know on minimal preparation time. I’m guessing you haven’t been in a situation like this yourself…

        • Wurtfangler says:

          Actually Halldor, I have – in exactly that position! That is part and parcel of being an assistant conductor – you have to be ready to jump in. It’s a tough business and you accept it when you get in to it, but it isn’t helped by backroom deals with agents for pretty faces and the latest fashionable name. I will be clear that I do not know José Luis Gomez’s work, but I find it difficult to believe that anyone who had been through the selection process to become the assistant conductor of the RSNO would not be perfectly capable of taking over that programme, given the opportunity.

          • John Pottinger says:

            Holly Mathieson, the RSNO’s assistant conductor, might well be capable of taking over the programme, but brief reference to the diary on her website shows that she wouldn’t have been free to do so. She wasn’t scheduled to assist the conductor of the RSNO programme this week, whoever it might be, no doubt because she has an engagement of her own with the BBC Concert Orchestra, in London, on Sunday afternoon. Rehearsals for this were presumably arranged for Friday/Saturday, the days of the RSNO concerts.

  • Bruce says:

    We had that happen with guest soloists once upon a time. Gabriela Montero cancelled (with a fair amount of advance notice) because she was invited to play at Obama’s inauguration, so we booked Orli Shaham, who cancelled (on short notice) because of illness, so we got Christopher O’Riley (on very short notice), who was wonderful.

    • LN_cello says:

      And singers! Still vividly remember a concert by the Dutch Radio Philharmonic in the Concertgebouw, with Shost. 13 – “Babi Yar”. The soloist who performed the previous evening called in sick, a Russian singer was contacted and flown in from Minsk, arrived just before the intermission of the afternoon concert, upon going through the score with the conductor (Wigglesworth) only to cancel his cooperation because he sang the censored text – the orch. and choir performed with the orig. (Yevtushenko) text and score.
      Not wanting to let down the audience, search continued, while the intermission was prolonged. Dutch singer Henk Smit (73) who had sang the part a few weeks earlier, was contacted, “picked off the street” right in Amsterdam, borrowed clothes and glasses and … sang his part brilliantly!

  • Cyril Blair says:

    The pianist will be Yekwon Sunwoo, the most recent Cliburn winner.

  • AKP says:

    And it was a stunning concert tonight.