Maestro move: NY orchestra names German chief

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in upstate New York has appointed Andreas Delfs, 61, as its next music director.

Delfs had a spell with Milwaukee in the early part of the century and has been guesting ever since. He succeeds Ward Stare who served seven years at Rochester.

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  • Delfs gave some excellent concerts here in Milwaukee, but I do recall it took a while for the orchestra and Delfs to get totally in synch. But when it worked the orchestra played very well for him. Rochester has a long and proud history of respected conductors and was making good recordings even pre-stereo – I recall a very creditable Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances under Leinsdorf for Columbia.

    In that sense I would hazard the opinion that Delfs may well be better suited as a music director than a guest conductor on the circuit. He had some very imaginative ideas for certain pieces — I particularly remember his gripping presentation of Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, and works by Kurt Weill — but sometimes crossed the line into serious misjudgment, a mash-up of movements of La Mer and Britten’s Peter Grimes sea scenes being the most awkward example I can think of. Two grand finales is one too many.

  • Can’t we have some conductors from the good ol’ USA? Let’s get Roderick Cox a position leading an orchestra.

  • I only wish there would be another Rochester Renaissance in the arts, which first began in 1923, as depicted in Joseph Horowitz’s book ON MY WAY. We came close to that during the Zinman years, but it did not revitalize our musical theater, traditional or experimental. We did have some fine opera productions thanks to Ruth Rosenberg. Good luck to the new maestro. I’m looking forward to live music making in the post covid era, whenever that great age may be.

  • Past MDs have included David Zinman and Mark Elder. The orchestra has often benefitted from the fact that the Eastman School of Music is in town and faculty members often play in the orchestra.

    • Anyone who has lived in New York state for any length of time, knows that the expression, “upstate” refers to anything north of Brooklyn. It reflects the mindset of the average New Yorker.

      • Funny, it was “upstate” the whole time I went to school there. Had several schoolmates from the area (that stretch from Syracuse to Buffalo) and they called it that too — it wasn’t just the Long Guyland kids.

  • The Rochester Philharmonic is a very excellent orchestra, which has a history of distinguished music directors-including, inter alia, Eugene Goosens, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Jerzy Semkow, and Mark Elder. One might also note that the world’s most distinguished orchestras include many musicians who have played in the RPO earlier in their careers.

  • So happy to see Andreas at the helm once again of a fine orchestra. [We shared three magical performances of the premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s Third Piano Concerto in Milwaukee back in 2008]. Hopefully he will bring his musical finesse and expansive repertoire to Rochester and they will ‘click’.

  • Nope. When an opening arises for a music director in a United States orchestra, the Assistant Vice-Kapellmeister of the Kleinmachnow Philharmoniker gets priority over any American applicant.

    • What do you have against immigrants? They came here in search of a better life and some of them conduct orchestras.
      Why do you want to keep immigrants out of classical music?

      • It’s not about being anti immigrant, it’s about the apparent discrimination against Americans. I listed many fine American conductors who, for some reason, do not have posts in the US. I didn’t even mention Karina Canellakis.

        • “For some reason” …?
          Have you considered the possibility these American conductors might be happy in their posts elsewhere? They might not even have applied to some American vacancies …

          Generally speaking, it seems to be in no ones interest to fill positions in an orchestra according to nationality:
          You can just not afford to not hire the most qualified applicant –
          on the one hand it would result in an inferior working atmosphere within the ensemble, on the other hand your paying customer expects the best possible “product”.

  • Delfs had a long and successful tenure as music director in Milwaukee. We had several memorable experiences with him; most notably, the first tour of Cuba made by an American orchestra since the Revolution, which he was instrumental in setting up. And many wonderful performances of Beethoven and Brahms and Bruckner symphonies, as well as the best Hansel and Gretel I’ll ever participate in.

    He left the orchestra in very good shape musically. And his programming was quite imaginative.

    So I’m optimistic that this will work out well for both the RPO and him.

  • Delfs was in MIlwaukee but his successor (Edo de Waart) was much better. I’m not sure that he adds much to the musical scene; he has not been called back to the MSO for some time. But he does like innovative programming.

  • This is great news. Delfs did beautiful work in Milwaukee. I remember the years just after 9/11 when he concurrently held the podiums in both Milwaukee and St. Paul, having homes in both places; it was an inspiration to younger Midwestern conductors like myself. I still recall a particularly fine Mahler 5, “Survivor from Warsaw”, and Beethoven 9th.

  • He had better be a good fundraiser. Much more important a skill than conducting. Perhaps he can teach at Eastman as well. He has been teaching at Temple. In my times working at the MSO as a sub, I found him to be very respectful of the musicians and came prepared.

  • I had the pleasure of working with Andreas on several projects including a guest performance in the ElbPhilharmonie. He is an excellent conductor and a real gentleman. Great news for Rochester!

  • This looks like a good fit. The MSO has long emphasized, as perhaps the most Germanic city in the USA, the core Germanic-Austrian repertoire but it has also done very well with conductors bringing in innovative programming, going all the way back to Kenneth Schermerhorn, Lukas Foss, Edo de Waart, and now Ken-David Masur. So too, the Rochester group has stressed innovative music, perhaps even more so. I have long enjoyed Howard Hanson’s compositions and work with Rochester and also that of Alan Hovhaness. Let’s wish all good luck.

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