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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Now Headlining at Lincoln Center: Van Biesen!

New York Philharmonic appoints Executive Director.
by Paul Pelkonen
Contrary to rumor, this is NOT the new logo of the NY Philharmonic.
The New York Philharmonic announced today that Matthew VanBiesen will be the orchestra's new Executive Director, replacing outgoing Zarin Mehta. Mr. Mehta held the post for 12 years.

Matthew Van Biesen is the new
Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic.
"This is one of the greatest orchestras in the world," Mr. Van Biesen said in a prepared statement. "Its history is legendary, the musicians unsurpassed, and its evolution under the artistic leadership of music director Alan Gilbert, truly visionary."

Mr. Van Biesen will start as Executive Director Designate. He will work with Mr. Mehta in a transitional period for the remainder of this season, assuming the job full-time for the 2012-2013 season. The Executive Director is one of three key positions that run the Philharmonic, along with the Music Director and Artistic Administrator.

The Philharmonic faces a number of challenges in coming seasons. Here's a list:
  • an operating deficit of $1 million (according to the Huffington Post.)
  • unfunded pension liabilities amounting to $24 million (also in the HuffPo article.)
  • a contract renegotiation with the orchestra's musicians. Their  current contract has expired. 
  • a full renovation of the aged Avery Fisher Hall, which will hopefully correct the acoustic problems that have plagued the facility since it opened (as Philharmonic Hall) in 1962. The hall has already been stripped out and rebuilt once (in 1973) and further acoustic alterations were made during Kurt Masur's tenure.
"Alan and I have had in-depth conversations about the future," Mr. Van Biesen added. "I feel a deep affinity with his ideas and am eager to collaborate closely with him and the entire organization."

Mr. Gilbert commented: “I have greatly valued the candid discussions I’ve had with Matthew this fall, and am truly impressed with his contemporary, forward-looking ideas about the role this orchestra can play in the cultural life of New York, of  America, and globally. He has the highest respect for the traditions of classical music, and a particularly powerful insight into the lives of musicians, cultivated in part during his years as a French horn player."

Mr. Van Biesen, who hails from St. Louis, MO, played horn in the Lousiana Symphony Orchestra. He comes to New York from Melbourne, Australia, where he has served as executive director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 2010. He has also served as general manager of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and sits on the board of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.

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