What the Berlin Phil’s recent vote says about choosing a music director today

Posted on: May 18, 2015

Critics Anne Midgette and Alex Ross are among those weighing in on last week’s meeting of Berlin Philharmonic musicians to vote on a music director candidate to replace Simon Rattle, who leaves Berlin in 2018 for the London Symphony Orchestra. “After more than eleven hours, came the announcement: the orchestra had been unable to come to an agreement,” writes Midgette in Friday’s (5/15) Washington Post. “The drama in Berlin demonstrates that in today’s conducting world, rife with talent, there aren’t clear front-runners…. And it shows that even one of the world’s top orchestras isn’t sure exactly what it wants.” In the May 13 issue of the New Yorker, Ross writes that during the voting process last week, “ ‘#Berlinerphilharmoniker’ became a trending topic on German Twitter…. I had a heretical thought: What difference does it make? The Berlin Philharmonic is unquestionably a magnificent organism…. But the idea that its chief conductor is the Pope of classical music is a relic of the Karjaan cult…. In my mind, a great orchestra must demonstrate technical finesse and intellectual adventure measure: it must expand the repertory, not simply reproduce it in high style…. Imagine the condition of Broadway if it were restricted to dead playwrights, or of the publishing business if it endlessly repackaged Dickens.”

Posted May 18, 2015