Jaap van Zweden to take the reins at New York Philharmonic

Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 11:56 am
Japan Van Zweden will become music director designate of the New York Philharmonic in the 2017-18 season.

Jaap van Zweden will become music director designate of the New York Philharmonic in the 2017-18 season.

The New York Philharmonic has chosen Jaap van Zweden as the orchestra’s next music director.

The Dutch conductor, currently music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, will become the Philharmonic’s music director designate in the 2017-18 season. He will officially take the title of music director in the fall of 2018 for a five-year term through 2024, leading 12 weeks of concerts a year and guiding the orchestra through the coming challenges of the Geffen Hall renovations.

“This is one of the happiest and most fulfilling days of my life,” said van Zweden, in a statement released by the Philharmonic after the press conference.  “To be asked by the great musicians of the New York Philharmonic and by the Board of this iconic institution to be its Music Director is truly an honor. As musicians, we strive to achieve the best for our audiences in sharing the music of so many gifted composers of the past and present as we look to the future. My heart is full, and my family and I look forward to being true New Yorkers, as I was during my Juilliard days.”

The announcement was made at a press conference Wednesday morning at Geffen Hall with the 55-year-old violinist-turned-conductor and his wife, the artist Aaltje van Zweden–van Buuren, in attendance. The couple have four children.

Van Zweden will be a guest in the Philharmonic’s yet-to-be-announced 2016-17 season, leading a program that includes the local premiere of Julia Adolphe’s Viola Concerto with soloist Cynthia Phelps.

Philharmonic chairman Oscar S. Schafer said van Zweden demonstrates “the highest level of music making, befitting this excellent Orchestra, as well as an infectious enthusiasm and dedication toward taking this great institution into the next era.”

“Having experienced his passionate and dynamic artistry with the New York Philharmonic over four appearances in the last four years, I believe Jaap van Zweden is not only a logical choice for the Philharmonic’s next Music Director, but an incredibly inspired and exciting one,” said Philharmonic president Matthew VanBesien. 

Van Zweden will come to the Manhattan post with roots in New York as an alumnus of the Juilliard School where he studied violin with the legendary Dorothy DeLay. Van Zweden became concertmaster of the storied Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at age 18 in 1975, a post he held for 16 years.

The conductor has been a regular Philharmonic podium visitor in recent seasons as well as guest conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and other major international ensembles.

Encouraged by Leonard Bernstein to take up the baton, van Zweden turned his attention to the podium while still with the Concertgebouw. He made his U.S. conducting debut with the St. Louis Symphony in 1996. His second stateside appearance wasn’t until a decade later with the Dallas Symphony, but the success of those concerts led the orchestra to offer van Zweden the music director position in 2008.

Van Zweden has also served as music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic from 2012-2016,  and chief conductor of the Residentie Orchestra in the Hague (2000-2005) and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic from 2005-2012.

His Dallas Symphony contract called for van Zweden to stay through 2018, but the Texas orchestra is graciously letting him out a year early to take up his new post at Lincoln Center.

The DSO announced today that van Zweden will be named Dallas Symphony conductor laureate in the 2017-18 season for three years during which he will return to Dallas to lead concerts.

“The velocity of artistic growth of the Dallas Symphony in the past seven-plus years under Jaap’s leadership is unprecedented in modern orchestra history,” said Jonathan Martin, president and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Association in a released statement. “Jaap brings to the podium an intense focus, discipline and adherence to the very highest standards, and it is revealed every time he makes music with the outstanding musicians of the DSO. I am looking forward to working with Jaap in the coming years as this growth continues.”

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