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Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians to Have Bigger Say in Director Search

By Kevin Shihoten
06 Aug 2007

The Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall, home of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
photo by Jim Roese

The process by which the Philadelphia Orchestra will choose its new music director will be unusually egalitarian, with each musician having a role in the decision, the The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Current music director Christoph Eschenbach, set to leave next year, has had a spotty relationship with the musicians. When appointed in 2001, he had not conducted the orchestra in four years. Last year, the orchestra's president, James Undercofler, reportedly said to Eschenbach that 80 percent of the players disagreed with him artistically, calling them a "ticking time bomb," according to The New York Times.

A committee or orchestra members, possibly around ten people and representing all instrument sections, will be formed for the purpose of gauging responses to guest conductors through meetings with small groups of musicians.

The ensemble in its entirety will not deliberate because some members are "not comfortable with speaking in a larger group," said Eric Carlson, trombonist and chairman of the members' committee.

"This time, management is bending over backwards to ensure total 'buy-in,'" writes Peter Dobrin of the Inquirer. “Musicians are already being polled on conductors the orchestra has seen in the last five years."

Undercofler told the newspaper that decisions may take at least two years, during which time Charles Dutoit will serve as chief conductor.

"We're not going to make any snap decisions," said Undercofler. "We're going to have a period of dating, courtship and then marriage."





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