Quoting a reassessment of her priorities during the family pandemic, and the desire to spend more time with her, the conductor will be stepping down after the 2023-24 season.
Jaap van Zweden, the musical director of the New York Philharmonic, announced on Wednesday that he would be stepping down at the end of the 2023-24 season, claiming that the pandemic had made him rethink his life and his priorities.
Van Zweden, 60, said in an interview that the upheaval of the pandemiche had pushed to reconsider his relationship with the orchestra, of which he led since 2018, as well as with his family, whom he rarely saw during his globetrotting days before the Covid crisis. He said he thought it would be a good time to move on, with the orchestra set to return to the newly renovated David Geffen Hall next fall, a year and a half ahead of schedule. .
"This is not out of frustration, it is not out of anger, it is not out of a difficult situation", a- he declared. "It's just for the sake of freedom.
His announcement comes as the Philharmonic faces a series of challenges that only get more complicated. as he tries to recover from the pandemic: The orchestra is homeless this season, playing in venues across the city.While his longtime home is under construction, and hopes to make a triumphant return to a transformed hall next season.
Van Zweden's tenure doesn 't was not without criticism. Although he was praised for maintaining high artistic standards, he was also faced with questions as to whether he had the star power and creative energy to lead the Philharmonic Orchestra. , one of the best ensembles in the world, at a time of challenge and change.
The pandemic struck just as it was taking hold In work. He has spent much of the past 18 months in the Netherlands, his home country, as Covid-19 swept across New York City and the orchestra suffered one of the most severe crises in its history.
Van Zweden's six-year term will be the shortest of all P musical directorshilharmony since Pierre Boulez, the French composer and conductor who conducted the orchestra for six seasons in the 1970s. Van Zweden said he planned to leave in 2023, when his initial contract had to expire. But Deborah Borda, President and CEO of the Philharmonie, persuaded him to add a year to give the orchestra more time to settle back into its hall and look for a successor.
In an interview, Borda called van Zweden a "great partner " and said she would work closely with the musicians of the orchestra to find a replacement. .
"This is a musician 's sense of impeccable timing," she said of van Zweden's decision. "You just have to respect it. Image Van Zweden, best known for symphonic standards, embraced new music and composers in the Philharmonic Orchestra. Credit ... Michelle V. Agins / The Hfrance.fr
Van Zweden, whose name is pronounced Yahp van ZVAY-den, came to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where he was credited for reviving a failing ensemble. At one point, he was America 's highest paid conductor, win over $ 5 million in one season.
In New York, he almost immediately confronted worries that it is focusing too much on the standard repertoire instead of defending new works. But with Borda as a partner, he made a point of highlighting the data featuring new composers and helped lead Project 19, a ambitious effort to commission works from women to mark the centenary of the 19th Amendment. Last year he conducted the premiere of Tania Leon 's "Stride", which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for music.
Critics havefound to praise van Zweden 's spirit of adventure, while saying that his exuberance could run out of control in sometimes garish performances of symphonic standards.
Anthony Tommasini, chief classical music critic for Hfrance.fr, praised van Zweden 's adoption of the new music in a review . "Mr. van Zweden surprised me by defending these initiatives " he wrote. "It's in the standard repertoire, which was supposed to be his selling point, that his record is more mixed. The orchestra has been forced to cancel more than 100 concerts, including its entire 2020-21 season. , a d to impose painful budget cuts. He lost more than $ 21 million in revenue.
Van Zweden described the pandemic as a personal turning point. months, hewas isolated from Philharmonic players, staying in touch only through occasional Zoom calls. The cancellation of concerts and major tours has prevented him from continuing to develop relationships with musicians, he said.
" Building on a relationship as a music director with an orchestra is almost like a daily, hourly experience, and in this time of not being with them you sometimes feel a little helpless that you can't have that connection. deep through music, ”he said. “All of that has been taken away.
He also felt helpless when he saw the orchestra cut its administrative staff by 40% to survive.
" You feel like there is a lot of damage and you can't do anything, "he said. “A lot has happened and there is a lot of pain there. "
Released from an intense performance schedule during the lockdown in the Netherlands, van Zweden has undergone some sort of transformation. At one point, he contracted Covid. He began to focus on his health, losing around 70 pounds. He dabbled in composition and listened to more popular music including Frank Sinatra, Van Halen and Lady Gaga.
He spent over time with his family, including his wife, father, children and grandchildren. He has also invested new energy in his foundation, which focuses on using music to help families with autistic children.
" It has changed me a lot as a person, ”he said. "And when you are going through a very intense period like by son, your perspective changes completely.
A ban on European travelers to the United States hasLeft van Zweden isolated from the orchestra: he was stranded abroad while the Philharmonic embarked on a series of pop-up concerts in the city and wondered about his future.
He finally went to New York in March to record shows for NYPhil + subion streaming service . But in April, when the Philharmonie back , after 400 days, for his first concert in a hall in front of a live audience, he was absent. He said he did not step onto the podium as the concert was originally scheduled to feature guest conductor Esa-Pekka Salo. nen.
"Every faithIf I could have been here, I would have been here, ”he said. "Let things be clear.
He and Borda have spoken about his desire to resign over the summer, and he is. informed of its decision at the end of August. He told the musicians of the orchestra during a rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon before their opening concert on Friday.
Van Zweden has said he wasn't sure what he would do next, but didn't rule out directing another ensemble. His contract with the Hong Kong Philharmonic is also due to expire in 2024, when he says he will resign there as well.
He said that he did I do not plan to occupy the high level position at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, which has been looking for a musical director since 2018. Van Zweden, who is also a violinist, has made his debut in this eminent ensemble, which has nomme first violin at the age of 19. .
For now, he said, he is focusing on reopening Geffen Hall, which is in the process of making the undergoing a $ 550 million renovation. La Philharmonie accelerated the long-delayed renovation of the room during the pandemic. In the meantime, the orchestra will perform at a variety of other venues this season, including Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall.
"It will probably be one of the highlights of my life to open this hall," he said. By staying for what should be the first two seasons of the new hall, he will be able to help the acousticians. to polish the space.
On Friday he will open the new season in Tully with a concert titled "From Silence to Celebration ". It will begin with a performance of Anna Clyne "Within Her Arms ", an enveloping work that van Zweden says would have a special resonance in the midst of the pandemic.
But he added that he still didn 't know what it would be like to go back to live indoor shows with the Philharmonic.
" The experience is there, ”he said. “It will be weird, but it will be. "