LA Phil poaches Met’s harp and LSO librarian

LA Phil poaches Met’s harp and LSO librarian


norman lebrecht

October 13, 2020

It has been an open secret for months that Emmanuel Ceysson, the Met’s French harpist, was crossing America to join the LA Phil. That appointment was confirmed today, together with the recruitment of the LSO’s ex-librarian Benjamin Picard, who will help them keep the books straight.

Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic have announced the appointments of Emmanuel Ceysson to the post of Harp and Benjamin Picard and KT Somero as Librarians.
Ceysson assumes his duties immediately, coming to Los Angeles from New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he served as principal harpist beginning in 2015.
British-born librarian Benjamin Picard holds degrees in Music and Composition from the Universities of Cambridge and Sussex, where he studied under the guidance of Richard Causton, Robin Holloway, Martin Butler and Ed Hughes
In 2016, following his postgraduate studies, he was appointed as Music Librarian of the London Symphony Orchestra. In this role he prepared music for the LSO’s famously busy schedule of concerts and recordings – which includes 70 performances a year at the orchestra’s London home at the Barbican Centre, as well as regular performances at many of the world’s most prestigious concert halls and music festivals,


  • John says:

    I thought all music positions are won though audition ?

  • Holzauge says:

    KT Somero’s appointment was apparently considered non-important by NL? KT is a distinguished performance librarian, please do not omit her merits.

  • Hobbes says:

    When you say ‘poaches’, do you mean that he applied for the job, auditioned/trialled, offered it, and accepted? I’m not always convinced that you know how the whole industry works, Norman…

  • Salvart says:

    Why not Principal Harp? Is that an intentional omission?

    • jocelyn says:

      Because LA Phil’s roster only has one harp? Their previous harpist Lou Anne Neill wasn’t billed as Principal Harp either.

      • YoYo Mama says:

        How cheap of them. They can afford to have at least two harpists. The Philadelphia Orchestra did, until Margarita Montanaro retired. The Met had two, plus a permanent substitute and a roster of additional players. The BSO had two until Zighera retired. So did Cleveland, all the worthwhile orchestras. And Second Harp is a great job to have. But those jobs were done away, Baltimore even did away with Principal Harp, and nearly all the professorships were done away with, too, but no one cares.

  • Mock Mahler says:

    Query: How many more tattooed harpists are out there?

  • Marcel Grandjany says:

    The Met’s gain is LA’s loss. Ceysson is an unprofessional, vain poseur, unbelievably filming himself in rehearsal while playing, and even in performances, regardless of the other orchestra members, and then sucking up all the sychophantic praise for his average-to-mediocre playing. He actually thought he was another Salzedo, having played just one of his pieces and not in style, and being imported from France as Levine’s last hire (for obvious reasons). The audition was stacked so that the other finalists were nowhere near his level of playing, which is comparable to any other harpist of little taste who has spent their whole young life practicing. His conceited personality suits him to Los Angeles perfectly. Oh, and did you catch his salacious photo spread in Opera News? They did all but give him a centerfold. Yes, he is fairly good looking. So what? He’s just another harpy. According to this, he’s not Principal, either.
    He made his career by playing recitals for harpists and harp events, playing stale old repertoire by 19th-century harpists, salon music, and winning a competition or two that had sufficiently low standards. I’m just amazed the Met didn’t suspend or fire him for his outrageous conduct in the pit. As for the red harp, he took a design that is a work of art and tarted it up, which suits him to a T. The Salzedo model was designed by Witold Gordon, and meant to be natural finish, with an interplay of light and shadow, which is ruined by colorizing. And then there’s the fact that he took not one, but two of the most important orchestra jobs in the USA away from qualifed American harpists, of whom there are many who can do it better than him. But you won’t see them playing in French orchestras. Bitter? Moi? Non. Hopefully, LA will wise up and send him back to France, sooner rather than later. Every year, at least a dozen harpists leave our schools at near a top level, and for the most part have no jobs. We cannot import foreigners.

    • Triple Cam says:

      If you don’t know anything about good harp playing, why you write a comment here?

    • mary says:

      “Oh, and did you catch his salacious photo spread in Opera News? They did all but give him a centerfold.”

      Thanks for prompting me to do a Google search. Okay, you do do have a point there, his trousers are so tight, not only can you tell which side he wears himself, you can practically tell if he’s circumcised or not.

      To boot, Opera News captions the photo “Harp Throb”, it might as well be “Hard Throb”.

      Not making anything up. It’s all there for the world to gawk at.

    • John Porter says:

      Ceysson was extremely well liked by his colleagues in the Met Orchestra and those at Mannes, where he taught. His students adored him and he has a broad interest in repertoire from traditional to Saariaho. As for Iphone recordings while playing in the pit of the Met, he is certainly not the first nor the last to do that. For such an “average player to mediocre” harpist, he has somehow managed to win two big jobs in the US in the past four years. He will be missed from New York, there is no doubt about it. Many are sorry the Met could not keep him.

    • Kevin says:

      If you’re going to do a hatchet job, kindly be honest enough to write under your own name, and not dishonour M. Grandjany, a highly-respected artist who is no longer with us and cannot defend himself against your cheap tricks.

      • Diane Valerie says:

        Agreed. The envy-larded diatribe of “Monsieur Grandjany” represents a new low, even by Slipped Disc’s standards.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    The LSO keeps losing key personnel. Not a good sign at all.

  • anon says:

    This will come across as snotty and snide, but it really is not, and not meant to be personal either, I’m just making some general observations:

    1) It takes PhD level studies in composition to become an orchestra librarian? That’s one of the gripes about the position of Librarian of Congress in the US, a vast majority of whom were not librarians per se (ie, degree in library or information sciences), but are PhDs in other fields (history, etc.) and professional librarians felt cheated of the top job in their field. (Sorta like actors and reality TV hosts getting the job of President of the US, ha ha ha.)

    2) It must suck to have studied composition and be a composer just to take up a job to mark up the scores and parts of other composers. If it were me, I would change a few notes along the way to improve and update those fusty old scores, like erasing Beethoven’s metronome markings, ha ha ha

    • Max Raimi says:

      Having both played in a major orchestra and collaborated with our librarians to have my compositions and arrangements prepared for performance, I can assure you that the position of librarian in a great orchestra requires great skill and confers great responsibility. They are a bit like umpires in a baseball game; no one pays any attention to them unless they screw up. But when they are not up for the job, it significantly lowers the quality of the performance.

      • Marcel Grandjany says:

        It used to be they just had to have a talent for it, not a degree. But then, software wasn’t involved in those days. Everything was done by hand.

    • RS says:

      You are right. This does come across as snotty ha ha ha

    • Bruce says:

      Not snotty or snide, but ignorant. (See Max Raimi’s comment.) Fortunately, ignorance can be fixed (by reading Max Raimi’s comment). 🙂

  • Peter Wadl says:

    Benjamin Picard is a fantastic orchestral librarian whose attention to detail is second to none. I know

  • Alison says:

    KT Somero is an incredibly qualified librarian and highly respected in her field. Why exclude her in this headline and story?

  • Papageno says:

    the last French guy, principal flute, ‘poached’ by LA Phil (not from the Met) was amazingly good; too bad he didn’t last long before being replaced by another Met guy.
    In the old days all harpists were male.

  • fflambeau says:

    The LA Phil has the Dude, offers exciting and challenging concerts and pays more than any other organization in the world. Why the surprise?

  • Papageno says:

    LA Phil has pretty high turnover especially in the wind section wonder why.

  • Carl Swanson says:

    Dearest “Marcel Grandjany”- My My MY what bitterness! You’r entire rant demeans and denigrates not only Emmanuel, but the competitions and orchestras who felt that he was the best in the crowd, and for good reason. You assume that if he won an audition, it was because the audition committee purposely packed the audition with under qualified players just so he could get the job. How idiotic! Your ridiculous rant says everything about you, and nothing about Emmanuel. You didn’t even have the decency to sign your real name