Franz Welser-Möst, who walked out of the Vienna Opera four weeks ago over artistic disagreements, is a much happier music director at the Cleveland Orchestra. So happy he has just extended his contract to 2022, meaning he will have spent more than 20 years with the orchestra.

Press release follows:

welsermost3

The Cleveland Orchestra announces extension of Franz Welser-Möst contract as Music Director to 2022

Extension confirms the continuing artistic success of the Welser-Möst/Cleveland partnership.

Franz Welser-Möst’s ongoing commitment to Cleveland provides continuity and artistic stability into the Orchestra’s second century.

Welser-Möst will lead the Orchestra even further in music education and community engagement.

 

Release Date: October 2, 2014 at 10 a.m. EDT U.S.A.

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Orchestra announced today the extension of Franz Welser-Möst’s contract as Music Director to 2022. With this extension, Mr. Welser-Möst’s tenure will reach at least 20 years, extending four years beyond the Orchestra’s Centennial Season in 2017-18. The announcement was made this morning to the Orchestra’s musicians and staff by the President of the Board of Trustees, Dennis W. LaBarre, and Executive Director, Gary Hanson.

“I am delighted that Franz will remain our artistic leader through and beyond our Centennial,” said Mr. LaBarre. “There is no more successful artistic partnership in the world today thanks to Franz’s extraordinary vision and leadership. I am confident the future will bring even greater success. Franz’s extended commitment provides artistic stability that is increasingly rare in our industry, and enables our shared goal for a Centennial that is a forward-looking foundation for the institution’s second century.”

“Franz is transforming The Cleveland Orchestra,” said Mr. Hanson, “not only artistically with ever-greater elegance and flexibility, but also institutionally through his passion for making us relevant to today’s audiences. For Franz, performing great concerts in local high schools is no less important than our celebrated international appearances. His long-term commitment to Cleveland is central to fulfilling our expanding education and community engagement mission.”

Commenting on the announcement of his extension, Mr. Welser-Möst said, “I love the spirit of The Cleveland Orchestra and there is no greater joy for me than collaborating with these musicians. Their collective dedication to excellence at every performance is inspiring and humbling. We challenge each other to greater heights with each passing season. I am very excited that we will launch the Orchestra’s second century together.”

Mr. Welser-Möst also spoke about the unique qualities of the Cleveland community, “We have a highly sophisticated audience in Northeast Ohio. I feel a special bond with them, whose enthusiasm for their hometown orchestra is matched by their understanding of the work and support required to maintain such an ensemble. And beyond Ohio, the passionate support of our Miami community motivates even further my long-term commitment to the Orchestra and those we serve.”

In recent seasons, Mr. Welser-Möst has led a comprehensive set of new initiatives for the Orchestra toward goals of greater community engagement while extending the Orchestra’s international presence and reputation. Looking ahead to the Centennial and beyond, he commented: “To remain relevant in a changing world requires that we constantly change and grow. Leading up to and beyond our Centennial, we will accelerate the pace of change, breaking more new ground with new audiences, new repertoire, and new types of concert and opera presentations.”

With his extended commitment through the 2021-22 season, Franz Welser-Möst will become the second longest tenured Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra. Mr. Welser-Möst was named the seventh Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra on June 7, 1999, and began his tenure in September 2002. In May 2003, his initial five-year contract was extended to 2012. In 2008, a six-year extension was announced to 2018.

Concurrently with his Cleveland appointment, Franz Welser-Möst has also served as General Music Director of the Zurich Opera up to 2010, and in the same role at the Vienna State Opera from 2010 to 2014. He is a regular guest conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic at home and on far-reaching international tours, as well as for opera productions at the Salzburg Festival.

 

 

 

Another day, another orchestra bites the dust.
The New Mexico Symphony is the latest bankruptcy in America. Bedfordshire Youth Orchestra the most recent British casualty of funding cuts. In Albuquerque, NM, the musicians learned their fate from reading newspapers. In Britain no print or broadcast medium has yet reported the death in Beds.
These are just symptoms of a sweeping phenomenon. Orchestras in Holland await their fate. Musicians in Philadelphia are discovering in court papers that one of the reasons their orchestra has filed for bankruptcy protection is to evade its pension duties – to the musicians.
In Rio de Janeiro, the sackings continue at the Brazil Symphony Orchestra. Its conductor, Roberto Minczuk, is reported to have resigned from the Municipal Theatre (though not the OSB) and is having to deal with a growing foreign boycott. In Buenos Aires, the Teatro Colon is strike bound. 
Where will it all end? The scenario is open-ended. Hardly any orchestra is immune. Gearing up for a bleak future, the New Mexico musicians remember a tribute last year (below) from one of America’s elite players, a member of the vaunted Cleveland Orchestra. But Cleveland itself is not immune to the winds of change. Several managers have told me they expect that, after Philadelphia, it could be the next to go.
These are dire times. And, as Richard Waugh points out below, we are all in the same burrow.


Thursday, March 04, 2010
By Richard Waugh
Violist, Cleveland Orchestra
NMSO, an Underfunded Jewel, Deserves Your Support
From 1987-1990, it was my great honor to serve as assistant principal violist of the
New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. I have since moved on to serve as principal violist of
the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and am now in my 16th season with the Cleveland
Orchestra, an ensemble called by many reviewers as one of the three great orchestras in
the world, along with those in Vienna and Berlin. But this is not about me, I am merely
mentioning my qualifications for voicing my particular opinion.
After not having heard an NMSO concert in years, I was back in town visiting family
and was fortunate enough to attend the Feb. 26 performance. I was deeply moved and
impressed by the concert, start to finish.
Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms featured the NMSO Chorus. If forced to choose
between the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the NMSO Chorus, I’d take the one in
Albuquerque. The Liebermann Concerto for Flute and Orchestra featured Valerie
Potter, the NMSO’s principal flute. I have never heard finer flute playing. The Beethoven
Symphony No. 3 featured impressive blending, ensemble and intonation in every section
of the orchestra. I have performed this piece dozens of times and found Maestro
Guillermo Figueroa’s interpretation fresh and exciting.
No, I am not a trained music critic. The point I’m trying to make here is about the
tremendous quality of what I heard.
What is striking to me is how much the Cleveland Orchestra and the NMSO have in
common. Both are composed of world class musicians who have dedicated their lives to
the art of music and to the city in which they live.
The casual listener might be hard pressed to hear the difference between the two, yet
the annual budget of the Cleveland Orchestra is 10 times that of the NMSO. Are there
NMSO musicians gifted enough to leave and play in major orchestras elsewhere?
Absolutely! Yet for the love of Albuquerque, they choose to stay.
Cleveland is referred to as “the mistake by the lake.” Forbes Magazine recently called it
the most miserable place to live of all major U.S. cities. Yet with a dwindling population
and an exodus of major corporations, the city still supports its beloved orchestra. 

Here are some breaking updates on recent stories in this blog.

– The free Haitink downloads have gone live in Holland – and in English. The first music comes free on March 9. Thanks to Rolf den Otter for these links.

http://haitink.radio4.nl/en/kijkenluister/http://haitink.radio4.nl/en/home/80-years-bernard-haitink.html 
http://haitink.radio4.nl/en/kijkenluister/

Cincinnatti fears the demise of Telarc will consign its orchestras to oblivion. Cleveland, too, is not that happy.

– Rainer Mockert has sent me a brilliant user-friendly site for classical recordings. The group behind it, he reports, were 44 percent down on record sales in their shops but are enjoying a 5.8 percent rise online. You’ll need German to get the most out of the site, but here’s an English bite:

Our database currently includes around 390,000 CDs, 31,000 DVDs, more than 2,000,000 books, and 23,000 special interest offers like vinyl LPs, SACDs, and music DVDs, so that no wish is left unfulfilled. Moreover, we have more than 4,000 PC, console, and board games as well an amazing number of dirt-cheap offers and limited items on the offer pages and in the bargain market.

– From Australia, I’m delighted to hear that Libby Christie, who turned around the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is taking charge of national arts funding. And from Canada …. oh, Canada. I guess that’ll have to be another day’s blog.

I try to update old blogs with Late Extra breaking updates, so do check back.

 

LATE EXTRA: And New York has woken up this morning to a stunning new opera reviewer – it’s the Post taking on the Times in the sleepwalker stakes. More of it, please.

Here are some breaking updates on recent stories in this blog.

– The free Haitink downloads have gone live in Holland – and in English. The first music comes free on March 9. Thanks to Rolf den Otter for these links.

http://haitink.radio4.nl/en/kijkenluister/http://haitink.radio4.nl/en/home/80-years-bernard-haitink.html 
http://haitink.radio4.nl/en/kijkenluister/

Cincinnatti fears the demise of Telarc will consign its orchestras to oblivion. Cleveland, too, is not that happy.

– Rainer Mockert has sent me a brilliant user-friendly site for classical recordings. The group behind it, he reports, were 44 percent down on record sales in their shops but are enjoying a 5.8 percent rise online. You’ll need German to get the most out of the site, but here’s an English bite:

Our database currently includes around 390,000 CDs, 31,000 DVDs, more than 2,000,000 books, and 23,000 special interest offers like vinyl LPs, SACDs, and music DVDs, so that no wish is left unfulfilled. Moreover, we have more than 4,000 PC, console, and board games as well an amazing number of dirt-cheap offers and limited items on the offer pages and in the bargain market.

– From Australia, I’m delighted to hear that Libby Christie, who turned around the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is taking charge of national arts funding. And from Canada …. oh, Canada. I guess that’ll have to be another day’s blog.

I try to update old blogs with Late Extra breaking updates, so do check back.

 

LATE EXTRA: And New York has woken up this morning to a stunning new opera reviewer – it’s the Post taking on the Times in the sleepwalker stakes. More of it, please.

Telarc, the first label to issue a digital release, has ceased production.

The founder, Robert Woods, will leave this month, along with the chief recording engineer, Michael Bishop. Half the workforce has been laid off – that’s 26 jobs – and the backlist becomes heritage. More details here.

Telarc had first call, as local patriots, on the superb Cleveland Orchestra and the quality of its sound was an audiophile’s delight. The label won 40 Grammys over the years and produced 800 recordings across several genres.

My guess is that its all-time bestseller was Wagner’s Ring Without Words, an improvement in certain respects on the original in a concept created by the conductor Lorin Maazel. Of late, the label blazed a trail for Paavo Järvi and his Cincinnati band. It has yet another version of the Gorecki third symphony coming up from Atlanta.

A sound philosophy, though, is not enough to save a label. Telarc, for all its merits, never took much risk by way of extending repertoire when the going was easy. I am really sad to see its purist values fall by the wayside and I fear that executives in the major labels will be encouraged by its fall to cut corners and compromise standards still further.  

Telarc’s values, however, endure as a permanent record. Its disappearance suggests that, in times of technological and financial upheaval, only by using creative imagination as a driving force can a musical enterprise be saved from extinction.

No blogs from me for the past six weeks – I’ve been immersed in a new book.

 

But the word from Cleveland this weekend deserves a cheer or three, if only for its courage and foresight in an industry noted for its timidity. The Cleveland Orchestra has renewed contracts with music director Franz Welser-Möst for another six years, taking them up to 2019, by which time they will have been together for two full decades.

 

FW-M is also due to become music director of the Vienna State Opera in two years’ time and is in high demand with orchestras on both continents.

 

So what’s so brave about the rehire? It is no secret that Cleveland’s chief music critic, Donald Rosenberg, struggles to find a kind word to say about Franz and that several of his colleagues on the NY Times take a comparably sceptical line when the orchestra comes to Carnegie Hall. Such dissent can affect public perceptions, as well as box office sales.

 

I have known musical organisations to turn chicken when critical opinion went sour on a maestro – check the recent Philadelphia Story (though that’s only half the story), or the way English National Opera treated its last two music directors. So all praise to Cleveland for sailing straight ahead and showing two fingers to the malcontents.

 

FW-M is never going to be to everyone’s taste. He has strong ideas about music and likes to get his own way. But there has never been a doubt of his ability to achieve exactly the performance he envisaged, or to maintain and improve the playing wherever he waves a wand. Cleveland, after ten years of Franz, is still by some margin America’s finest ensemble – and among its most adventurous, with a stream of new commissions and, in the near future, a season of fully-staged opera.

 

Which other US orchestra is showing such enterprise and determination?

 

Go on, name me one.

No blogs from me for the past six weeks – I’ve been immersed in a new book.

 

But the word from Cleveland this weekend deserves a cheer or three, if only for its courage and foresight in an industry noted for its timidity. The Cleveland Orchestra has renewed contracts with music director Franz Welser-Möst for another six years, taking them up to 2019, by which time they will have been together for two full decades.

 

FW-M is also due to become music director of the Vienna State Opera in two years’ time and is in high demand with orchestras on both continents.

 

So what’s so brave about the rehire? It is no secret that Cleveland’s chief music critic, Donald Rosenberg, struggles to find a kind word to say about Franz and that several of his colleagues on the NY Times take a comparably sceptical line when the orchestra comes to Carnegie Hall. Such dissent can affect public perceptions, as well as box office sales.

 

I have known musical organisations to turn chicken when critical opinion went sour on a maestro – check the recent Philadelphia Story (though that’s only half the story), or the way English National Opera treated its last two music directors. So all praise to Cleveland for sailing straight ahead and showing two fingers to the malcontents.

 

FW-M is never going to be to everyone’s taste. He has strong ideas about music and likes to get his own way. But there has never been a doubt of his ability to achieve exactly the performance he envisaged, or to maintain and improve the playing wherever he waves a wand. Cleveland, after ten years of Franz, is still by some margin America’s finest ensemble – and among its most adventurous, with a stream of new commissions and, in the near future, a season of fully-staged opera.

 

Which other US orchestra is showing such enterprise and determination?

 

Go on, name me one.