Congratulations to my old teacher and mentor Leonard Slatkin on his appointment as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony, where he is succeeding Naime Jarvi beginning in the fall of the 2008-9 Season.
Leonard offered the following comment in a press release from the DSO website- “Last May, I conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the first time in 20 years,” said Leonard Slatkin, “and it was clear from the first downbeat that this was an extraordinary ensemble. We’ve reached agreement in a very short time and I am happy and honored to take the helm of this great orchestra. I believe we can develop a vision for excellence, education, new and American music, recordings and touring that will bring new attention to the quality and tradition of the Detroit Symphony, locally, nationally and abroad. I look forward to a most exciting and rewarding tenure.”
Although Slatkin will officially assume his role with the DSO in the fall of 2008, he is actively participating in artistic and strategic planning beginning immediately. “We are already making significant plans for future seasons,” he said. “Next season I will lead five subscription weeks, and the year following, one-half of the orchestras’ concerts, as we develop our sound and image together. We will also continue the tremendous educational activities already in place and institute new initiatives as well.”
One of Leonard’s most successful projects at the National Symphony has been the National Conducting Institute, a program which has had an incalculable impact on conductors and their orchestras all over the world. I hope he’ll continue to share his experience and insights with young conductors at the DSO.
I haven’t caught a DSO concert in a long time, but Jarvi’s hallmark is usually to build orchestras that work very fast to a superb technical standard. Leonard shouldn’t have to do a lot of “orchestra building,” but I think he has a fantastic opportunity make the orchestra a central part of healing a troubled city. No American conductor understands social trends, political issues and community moods better than Leonard- could he make the DSO the American equivalent of Rattle’s City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra? How exciting would it be to see an orchestra at the heart of an effort to redefine and reinvigorate one of the great American metropolitan areas….
UPDATE- Of course, Leonard was also recently appointed principal guest of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and they have already announced that he will create a new conducting program there similar to the NCI. More here