From the dark days of two years ago, when the Colorado Symphony Orchestra was facing big losses and worse morale, the situation keeps getting brighter, with innovative programming attracting more support -- and expanded audiences. And this morning the spotlight will shine on the CSO's new music director: conductor Andrew Litton.
He's a familiar face at the symphony: Last September 1 the musical superstar came on as artistic director. "Though I was not looking for a formal relationship with another orchestra," he said at the time, "my decision to assume the role of artistic advisor of the Colorado Symphony was made simple for me. It's all about the relationship with the musicians. This is a very special group of players with an exceptional level of positive energy, dedication, and an intensity that I treasure. We enjoy a great relationship and a vital common vision to make the best possible music for the people of Denver and Colorado. While I can't fulfill the obligations of another music directorship right now, the perfect compromise is to assume the role of artistic advisor and is my dream come true." See also: - Colorado Symphony Orchestra welcomes Andrew Litton into the fold - Photos: Colorado Symphony and Nathaniel Rateliff working on Beck's Song Reader - The Colorado Symphony Orchestra struggles on
And now he has assumed that music directorship, working with a group of musicians he came to really appreciate over the past year.
He also appreciates the relationship that those musicians have with the symphony management. Litton signed on as artistic advisor when Gene Sobczak was CSO president and CEO. But Sobczak has moved on, and Jerome Kern, who returned as board co-chair with his wife, Mary in September 2011, is now the CEO -- and the symphony is back in the black.
Here's the announcement from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra:
Andrew Litton Named Colorado Symphony Music Director
DENVER - August 20, 2013 - The Colorado Symphony announces that Andrew Litton, formerly Artistic Advisor, has been named Music Director and will assume the full duties and responsibilities for the artistic leadership of the organization.
"Over the past year, it became increasingly evident that the Colorado Symphony has what it takes to be one of America's top orchestras. Its management knows what it takes to get there. It has made great strides in securing the orchestra's future. Its superb musicians have passion for what they do. I want to be part of that winning team," says Andrew Litton.
Andrew Litton is Music Director of Norway's Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Minnesota Orchestra Sommerfest, Conductor Laureate of Britain's Bournemouth Symphony, and former Music Director of the Dallas Symphony. He guest conducts the world's leading orchestras and opera companies and has a discography of over 100 recordings with awards including a Grammy®, France's Diapason d'Or, is a Knight in Norway's Royal Order of Merit, and has many British and other honors.
"Andrew inspires and challenges our already great orchestra," says Colorado Symphony Co-Chair and CEO, Jerome H. Kern. "He knows how to build orchestras and earn world recognition. He's a great communicator on and off the podium. Andrew brings a wealth of experience and contacts to the orchestra. We're already in discussion for recording projects with two of Europe's leading recording companies. Great things will be happening for the Colorado Symphony!"
Not only does Litton have an impressive resume, but he's not shy about weighing on the state of international culture. Earlier this month, Litton weighed in when a British newspaper, Independent on Sunday, announced that it was dispensing with arts reviews. Here's what he told Classicalite:
While every classical musician may have a critic or two upon whom he wishes unemployment or early retirement, the truth is they are a necessary evil. When critics had newspaper space, it helped fill houses, some lured by raves, others curious if we really were as bad as portrayed. But we desperately need good criticism, an art form practiced by only a few that creates both a valuable dialogue with performers and an objective source of enlightenment for an audience that has been largely abandoned by our education system. The demise of the music critic strikes a somber knell for all musicians. Self-appointed cyber-critics rarely are a satisfactory substitute for informed, intelligent, well-written commentary, even when wrong.
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Litton will be back in Denver in mid-September, to conduct the CSO's first Masterworks Series as the symphony's music director. Welcome home.