NY Phil hires new VP. Er, why?

NY Phil hires new VP. Er, why?


norman lebrecht

April 08, 2021

Someone called Patrick Castillo has been appointed Vice President, Artistic Planning of the New York Philharmonic, effective immediately.

A note to staff says: Many of you have gotten to work with Patrick over the past few months in his role as an artistic planning consultant with the New York Philharmonic, and before that in his various professional capacities, including as Senior Director of Artistic Planning at the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

From his website: Patrick Castillo leads a multifaceted career as a composer, performer, writer, and educator. His music has been described as “restrained and reflective but brimming with a variety of texture and sound that draws you into its world” (I Care If You Listen) and has been presented at festivals and venues throughout the United States and internationally, 

The Philharmonic pays a music director several million dollars a year to shape its artistic content.

Why does it need an extra VP?




  • Rogerio says:

    “restrained and reflective but brimming with a variety of texture and sound that draws you into its world”

    The same can be said of the sweet music of the cricket.

  • David Rowe says:

    Patrick is absolutely superb – NYP are smart (and fortunate) to have him!!

    • John says:

      Agreed — great hire for the New York Phil. Patrick has accomplished great things in St. Paul and also at Music@Menlo.

      • Couperin says:

        Get ready for some programming of Caroline Shaw, Tyshawn Sorey, Andrew Norman, and whomever else the NYTimes, Alex Ross or other lame taste-makers deem to be the next great American hope for “classical” music.

  • John Porter says:

    So, why is this a questions limited to the NY Philharmonic. What about Carnegie Hall, all the opera companies, and all the rest of the orchestras in the US and abroad.? Do you really think that the music director is going to coordinate all of the programming, including all the guest artists, all the major bookings and negotiations, all the special events, panels, commissions, etc? Seriously? Or is it that you don’t think much of this particular hire?

  • CSOA Insider says:

    The answer could be a very simple one. Take Chicago: the Music Director, apparently the highest paid in the world, does absolutely nothing in terms of artistic planning. The actual planning work fell entirely on the shoulders of the very capable, distinguished VP AP (now in London). One of the biggest challenges for her was to find a couple of hours every month to talk to the Music Director, ever engaged in more important and shall we say gratifying (for him) tasks.

  • Minnesota says:

    Perhaps the blogger could make a couple of phone calls to find the answer to the question posed. Several orchestras in the U.S. have similar positions.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    “Does it need an extra VP?”

    Perhaps because in reality music directors for many major international orchestras are all but highly-paid and over-promoted principal guest conductors, with seemingly minimal responsibilities for programming or the cultivation of the ensemble’s sound or musical identification?

    A cardinal rule for any job is that you have to show up. Pretty basic.

    • Anon says:

      This is true and exactly why the Music Director position is obsolete.
      A different picture is sold to the concert going public.

    • CSOA Insider says:

      We have to be fair to Muti, he is showing up.

      Only, he is showing in Japan for his family business’ opera academy. Chicago is still happy to keep paying the millions.

  • Anon says:

    If you think music directors do all the programming, you’ve obviously never worked in the industry.

  • drummerman says:

    All of the major US orchestras, and many of the mid-size ones, have someone with the title of “artistic administrator” or “director of artistic planning,” etc. This position came about in the 1970s, as I recall, the notion being that many music directors are not staying in the one city full time (like, say Ormandy in Philadelphia, Szell in Cleveland, etc. in the good old days) So this staff member assists the M.D. in planning the season, negotiating artist contracts, recommending soloists, etc.

    Furthermore, if the M.D. is strictly a “classical” person but the orchestra also does pops concerts, you need someone who is versatile in that area, too. Take it from me…I’ve been the artistic administrator of two orchestras.

    • Saxon says:

      Did Szell or Ormandy actually book the guest conductors or soloists? I think that is unlikely. I am pretty sure that an administrator has always done a lot of the actual planning of the programme, with input from the music director/conductor. How much they do will obviously differ across MDs.

  • John Gingrich says:

    I’ve only been at this 50 years, but that position has existed with the New York Philharmonic for all of that time.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Listen to his Quality of Mercy:


    He is appointed because that is the way things work:


    Of course, they work beautifully.

  • Friendofafreindofatromboneplayer says:

    Certainly a talented terrific hire.

    With the surplus of money in the budget the musicians left not pushing back whatsoever on a long term bad deal why not!

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Do we have enough information to make a judgement? Of course not.

    What we do know that this blog is invariably critical of the New York Philharmonic and the way they spend their money. With one exception: should they hire Mirga as their next music director, “salary negotiations will start at $2 million. She could hold out for $3m”.

  • BRUCEB says:

    Translation: anybody not lily-white (and male) must be unqualified.