Maestro slips: Indy goes headless

The Indiannapolis Symphony Orchestra has found a curious way to announce that  Krzysztof Urbański is leaving them as music director in 2021, with no successor in sight.

Here’s the wording:

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, along with Music Director Krzysztof Urbański, is preparing for a transition in artistic leadership in 2021. The 2020-21 season will conclude Maestro Urbański’s tenure with the ISO, marking a decade of artistic partnership in Indianapolis…

The ISO will conduct a search for a new music director as Maestro Urbański’s term comes to a close, ensuring a smooth transition of leadership. A search committee will be formed for this purpose, with ISO musicians, staff, and board represented in the process.


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  • Good riddance. I don’t understand how these arrogant young punks from Europe (eastern, in this case) win good jobs as US Music Directors and then procede to disrespect and fire excellent veteran players who’ve been there for years.

    If a young US conductor won a good job in Poland, would he immediately go in and try to fire older Polish players who’d been there for years? Well, that’s what Urbanski tried to do in Indiannapolis.

    This guy is arrogant with a sense of entitlement and a total lack of respect for the fine players who enabled him this experience in the US.

    There is a special place in hell for guys like Urbanski, Carlos Kalmar and any other foreign born US music director who forgets that they are guests in the US and start attacking and firing veteran players.There is a surplus of well qualified US conductors who could be doing their jobs.

    • Your comment goes hand in hand with my ingrained suspicion as to why some people want to become conductors in the first place, using a musical education to immediately wield power over others without ever having to prove themselves professionally competent on their instrument(s). As long as society remains obsessed with youth over ability we’re always going to have this problem.

    • “There is a surplus of well qualified US conductors who could be doing their jobs.”

      Tell that to the symphony boards of directors who still are seduced by a strange, foreign name and automatically assume he/she will be a great maestro – no American need apply. Nope, those boards want young, foreign, attractive, mysterious conductors. It’s too bad there isn’t a way to audition conductors like they do musicians – not being able to see the person, make the judgment on what you hear, not what you see,

      • “those boards want young, foreign, attractive, mysterious conductors.”

        Well, I’m no conductor, but the other criteria are spot on!

        • San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bakersfield , Seattle, Portland, Tucson, Dallas, Houston, Cleveland, Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta…need I continue?

          • First: SFS still has a very American MD who has been leading them for 24 years.
            Second: Atlanta’s MD is an American too.
            Not sure about such cultural capitals like Bakersfield, but where are your examples of a “surplus” of American conductors who are better than EPS, FWM, YNS, JvZ, RM, AN, GN, GD?

      • “It’s too bad there isn’t a way to audition conductors like they do musicians” (!)
        Well said (written)!
        The implication of course is that conductors aren’t ‘musicians’… and I have to say that, many times, one finds out that, unfortunately they are not!

    • It isn’t only the European youngsters who engage in this sort of behavior. There’s an MD in the western U.S. who has practiced the same thing, but in his 50s — old enough to know better.

    • Conservatories and orchestras in the US roll out the red carpet for foreign born musicians/conductors and people from other ‘underrepresented groups.’ Selective discrimination and globalism are pillars of liberalism.

  • Would be nice to see an African American MD in Indianapolis. Probably would be very successful in increasing attendance. That city has a 30% black population after all!!

    • The only African American conductor I know is Roderick Cox . And I go to over 100 concerts a year!

        • Somehow I have missed Raphel. Wiki says he has appeared as guest conductor with major orchestras in North America including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra.. I have not seen him conduct yet. Next season he is in Boston conducting William Grant Still. I will be there!

  • A dissenting view to the bulk of the comments here. If folks are referring to the 2017 age discrimination lawsuit filed by a bassoon player, please go back and review the posts and the comment threads about it. As I said at the time after doing a serious look into this, you have to know how to read a lawsuit, or at least the responsible reports about it – I think it was the Indianapolis Business Journal that did a particularly comprehensive job with the story. Age discrimination is a thing. So is aging. In my considered judgment, backed by some others with much more of a first-hand view of the situation, there was clearly something wrong with the player and his attitude toward a music director many years his junior. I haven’t seen Urbanski but hope to before 2021 (I’m not sure what’s so shocking about somebody leaving in two years), so I can’t personally judge on performance. But the record will show he’s put fannies in the seats, and that matters.

    Also, just in general, all this fussbudget language about younger vs. older people doesn’t do classical music any good. The various demographic issues out there are real. Talk like I see here just makes it worse. Thanks.

  • Talk like what we see here brings it to the surface so that it can be identified more clearly. Age discrimination against musicians does exist. This isn’t the only orch. where it’s been an issue. “Putting fannies in the seats” is not a worthwhile goal when you are throwing fannies out of seats in the orch. you were hired to conduct.

    It’s only “fussbudget language” if you are young yourself or not affected by an age disrimination situation. Yes it would be so much more convenient if everyone just kept quiet and stopped complaining about injustice – in this case age discrimination. But it would never get fixed.

    • I don’t know what happened in Indianapolis, but abolishing the age of retirement has made it difficult to get older workers who can no longer do their job to retire. In the past one usually just waited until the compulsory retirement arrived, especially if the wait was only for a year-or-two. Nowadays, you actually have to demonstrate the old person can no longer do the job: that is a very unpleasant process for everyone involved.

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