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Thursday, March 3, 2011

James Levine Resigns from Boston Symphony Orchestra

James Levine conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Photo by Michael J. Lutch © 2009 Bloomberg
According to a report in today's Boston Globe, James Levine will step down from his position as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, following this summer's Tanglewood concerts.

In a press release, BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe said that the orchestra will begin a search for their new music director "immediately."

A short piece on Boston.com speculated that the short list of possible music directors includes:
  • Michael Tilson Thomas
  • Robert Spano
  • Mariss Janssons
  • Riccardo Chailly
"The BSO has been incredibly fortunate to have had one of the greatest conductors of our time at its helm sice 2004," Mr. Volpe said in the statement. "That being said, given Maestro Levine's health issues, this has been a challenging time for all of us."

He continued: "We look forward to continuing our conversation with Jim about defining a new role where he can focus solely on the music and defining artistically stimulating projects that would be meaningful to him and the orchestra."

In other words, they're leaving the door open for Mr. Levine to return as guest conductor or some sort of "emeritus" position in the next few years.

In the official release, Mr. Levine added: "Given the challenges regarding my health and the ensuing absences they have forced me to take from my work with the BSO, I believe it is best for everyone, but especially the orchestra and our wonderful audiences, for me to step down as music director."

Earlier in the week, Mr. Levine announced that he would withdraw from all of his spring 2011 obligations, including a short Northeast tour that brings the BSO to Carnegie Hall for a three-night stand. Conductors for those concerts include BSO assistant conductor Marcelo Lehninger, Roberto Abbado, and Andris Nelsons, who will lead the Mahler 9th on March 17.

All these Boston cancellations will not affect Mr. Levine's duties at the Metropolitan Opera, where he also holds the post of music director. In a statement, Met press director Peter Clark indicated that Mr. Levine will fulfill his 2011 obligations. He is scheduled to conduct performances of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Il Trovatore and Wozzeck, as well as concerts at Carnegie Hall.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.