An algorithm to choose your next music director

An algorithm to choose your next music director


norman lebrecht

April 17, 2023

The Berlin-based cellist Will Roseliep has been crunching data to see if a computer could pick a better music director than some of the human choices.

He says: ‘I compiled tons of data from various databases and websites (including Slippedisc) on 129 conductors. Then I ran that data through an algorithm to determine “best fit” for the LA Phil short list.’

Try it here.

He’s leaving home…


  • GCMP says:

    Curious to know what it would do for the CSO.

  • John W. Norvis says:

    I don’t care who y’are, that’s funny right thar. — Larry the Cable Guy

    Needs a section on who would want the job. Can’t imagine Thielemann, Rattle,
    (Kirill) Petrenko, Barenboim, Luisi, or Nézet-Séguin doing anything but laughing heartily at the approach. Can’t see Gergiev being considered for obvious reasons but could a Borda-less LA Phil afford him?

    LA should lead the way again. Select an AI to be the MD and come up with a robot or hologram for the in-town weeks. The studios are all over that tech. Have the usual flock of guest pigeons fly in, deposit their offerings, and fly out for the rest of it.

  • Karden says:

    The weakest choice the LA Phll’s board might choose would be the oft-mentioned Susanna Malkki. She may be very talented and capable, but she lacks a certain look or charisma.

    Another person who clicks the socio-political boxes just as well would be Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla. She’s more youthful and appealing, but something about even her still pings a vague sense of “second choice.”

    By contrast, when Carlo Maria Giuliani followed Zubin Mehta at the LA Phil, that was more like passing the baton from symbolic equal to symbolic equal.

    Generally, the situation described in the following should never be duplicated by the LAP or allowed by any orchestra:

  • rubicon says:

    Muti is a loser in every category. That’s an amazing feat.

  • MacroV says:

    Where in the algorithm is “too old” or “has a job that prevents them from taking this one?”

    • Will Roseliep says:

      Those are good parameters to add, I agree. If you scroll down you’ll see I selected for “younger” conductors later on. But eliminating obviously over-committed conductors (e.g. Yannick) would work too. My assumption is that LA has a pretty strong pull, and a lot of over-committed conductors would at least think about uprooting to live a charmed S. California life. Who knows though!

  • samach says:

    Algorithm, Smalgorithm, everybody is trying to jump on the AI bandwagon, but AI is only as good as its human code writer

    Oh just ask ChatGPT, it accesses a far greater database and is constantly unpdated by armies of coders slaving away in India and China day and night

  • samach says:

    On the Slippedisc homepage, this photo of Dudamel, who looks like he just came back from a sausage tasting and beer drinking tour of Central Europe, is juxtasposed against the beefcake photo of Lorenzo Viotti, sooo funny

    Add THAT to your algorithm

  • Tommy says:

    They are missing the most important thing: Has this person conducted the orchestra recently, and was there magic in the concerts?

  • Karden says:

    “Add THAT to your algorithm”

    I wonder how the vetting process will go or what criteria ultimately will have the most influence on the decisionmakers? From a distance, a person may look better than he or she actually is. Or visa versa.

    Esa-Pekka Salonen taking up the mantle again might be one of the few outcomes that would have at least a bit of symbolic grace for the LA Phil. But since he signed on not too long ago with the SFS, that muddies the water.

    I wonder who Dudamel would like to see as his successor? Or who Salonen would favor? Since the two of them are a part of the upcoming California Festival, I wonder if they have talked (or will talk) about this?

    As for Viotti, he’s into surfing, does a lot of celebrity-type PR work and has Hollywood-type looks. So “LA” stereotypes hover all around him. But he doesn’t check off certain identity boxes and to insiders (such as musicians, etc) he may be more flash than substance.

    Also, ongoing negative publicity about West Coast US cities (among others—eg, a riot during the weekend in the biggest city of the Midwest) is part of the equation too. But cities like Paris are also having their moments too.