Jaap’s man wins Seattle

Jaap’s man wins Seattle


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2020

Raff Wilson, head of artistic planning for the Hong Kong Philharmonic who hired Jaap van Zweden as chief conductor and cast a full Ring cycle for Naxos, has been named Vice President of Artistic Planning at the Seattle Symphony.

A Sydney man, Wilson previously worked with David Robertson and Vladimir Ashkenazy at the Sydney Symphony.



  • Hanna Nahan says:

    What a ludicrous angle to take…

    • HKmusician says:

      Raff Wilson was already in Hong Kong had nothing to do with the appointment of Jaap van Zweden (nor did Jaap select Raff). It was well known that in the end Jaap and Raff did not get along at all, and that was the reason Raff left (pushed out?). Raff also had nothing to do with Jaap’s acclaimed Ring cycle recording; that was only Jaap! So he’s definitely not Jaap’s man. Maybe Jaap’s bagboy?

  • Eric says:

    Raff left Hong Kong Phil in 2017 and has been back at Sydney Symphony since then…

  • Nick2 says:

    I don’t think Raff Wilson had much to do with the appointment of Jaap van Zweden.The appointment just happened on his watch.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    After 40 years in the industry, I am still trying to understand why orchestras need this position.

    Isn’t the music director supposed to be planning the season, inviting guests (artists and conductors), and planning the programs?

    Or are they too busy flying around so the industry has created this role?

    Did Szell, Reiner, or Leinsdorf have artistic planners?

    • MacroV says:

      I don’t have 40 years in the industry, but I would imagine that the MD basically points to the item on the menu, and it’s the responsibility of the director of artistic planning to make it happen. Just like any CEO makes a decision and other people carry it out.

      And a lot of orchestras are more democratic; the MD doesn’t necessarily decide everything – the musicians may have input, etc. (what a radical notion: Listen to the ideas of 100 superbly-trained and experienced musicians).

    • Anon says:

      Looks like you answered your own question.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      It’s not that simple, at least in many orchestras. The music director certainly has a major voice, but the financial side has a voice (generally in favor of repertoire likely to attract the largest audiences, or in favor of guest artists with manageable fees); logistical issues include what pieces a given artist has in their active repertoire for the season, not to mention availability for a given date or set of dates. The music director and chief executive (or whatever the title) often set themes and overall plans jointly, but then the issues above inevitably cause changes. Having someone knowledgeable about repertoire, artists and their managements, and related matters is invaluable — and yes, especially so if music directors spend a lot of time away from their home orchestras, guest conducting. A season’s program is usually not set until after many iterations.