Sunday, October 31, 1999

CSO's guest conductors hint at future leaders

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Take a good look at the guest conductors of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra this season. You could be watching the future of the CSO.

        Two guest conductors have led the orchestra so far this year, and there is speculation that Estonian-born Paavo Jarvi will become its 12th music director, after Jesus Lopez-Cobos leaves in 2001. Because conductors are booked years in advance, the CSO may be on the verge of making a quick decision to avoid a season without leadership.

        Another reason to move quickly is the competition. Eight major orchestras are seeking music directors. Cleveland has already filled its slot with Franz Welser-Most; Simon Rattle will be the next music director of the Berlin Philharmonic. Meanwhile, two more podiums have opened up.

        On the other hand, why would the CSO be so quick to choose the most important person in its organization? Who is worthy of the Cincinnati Symphony, the nation's fifth oldest orchestra, whose previous music directors have included the renowned Leopold Stokowski, Fritz Reiner, Eugene Goossens and Thomas Schippers?

        the big-budget ($26 million) orchestra is a plum. It tours, it has a recording contract with Telarc, and it performs in a beautiful and acoustically sound hall.

        As the CSO confronts a diminishing audience, the new music director will face the enormous challenge of audience development. He or she must be a brilliant musician who can move the audience and earn the respect of the players and the community.

        It must be someone who can pump life into the symphony the way leaders at Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet, Playhouse in the Park and the Contemporary Arts Center have invigorated their organizations.

        Who will it be? The CSO's search committee is working secretly to find a maestro. Although one obvious favorite has emerged (Mr. Jarvi), every guest conductor this season and in the recent past can be considered a candidate.


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