In February, Leonard Slatkin, 65, is the new music director of the Orchestre National de Lyon, effective with the 2011-12 season. He is the second American to hold the post. He has led virtually all of the major orchestras in the United States, including those of Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Cleveland and Philadelphia. He currently is the director for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) the fourth oldest orchestra in the United States.
Slatkin said, “My position in Lyon gives me a second solid base where I can additionally make music in the most positive and agreeable way and permits me more solidity and focus in all my work as contrasted with what is possible in my recent schedules of constant flying from continent to continent and orchestra to orchestra.”
Slatkin leads 16 weeks of DSO concerts a year. He plans to spend 12 weeks with the Lyon orchestra and three weeks in his ongoing role as principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Though adding another major post to his portfolio might add to his work load on one level, on another it promises to streamline his activities. Most of his fall and winter season will now be accounted for by work in three cities. For Slatkin, who suffered a heart attack last year, the triumvirate will allow him to reduce the amount of guest conducting he does.
In Lyon, Slatkin takes over an orchestra with an international profile garnered through tours and recordings. He succeeds German conductor Jun Märkl as music director. He also becomes the second American to lead the orchestra in recent years, after David Robertson (2000-2004), who coincidentally remains music director of one of Slatkin’s former orchestras, the St. Louis Symphony.
Slatkin has a long history with French musical culture. “Much of my guest conducting career has centered on French orchestras,” he said. “Indeed, my principal teacher, Jean Morel, was French and taught me much about the repertoire and culture.”
Since his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1974, Mr. Slatkin has led virtually all of the major orchestras in the United States, including those of Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Cleveland and Philadelphia. He is a regular guest at major summer festivals such as Aspen, Tanglewood, Ravinia, Saratoga, and New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival. In Great Britain he served as Principal Guest Conductor of London’s Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic and was Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Slatkin has conducted most of the world’s major orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Bayerische Symphony Orchestra and all the prominent ensembles in Paris and London. He has also appeared on podiums throughout the Far East.
Check out the next video blog posting to listen to his ideas about how to create the sounds that gives an audience an unforgettable musical moment.