The 35-year-old Outwater, who recently concluded his tenure as resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, accepted a four-year contract for his new position; he will also serve as artistic advisor in preparation for the coming season.
A native of Santa Monica, California, Outwater graduated from Harvard cum laude in 1993 with a degree in English literature. He received his master's degree in conducting from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he studied with Heiichiro Ohyama and Paul Polivinick; he also studied music theory and composition with John Stewart, Joel Feigin and Leonard Stein. He has conducted the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, as well as the Chicago, Baltimore, Houston, Detroit, Seattle and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestras.
The KWS has been through a difficult time this year. A major fundraising drive was announced at the beginning of October that appealed to supporters, community leaders, local governments and provincial and Canadian federal arts bodies, warning that if the orchestra did not raise more than C$2 million, it would be forced to declare bankruptcy and shut down. The goal was achieved and exceeded: more than C$2.5 million was raised in less than four weeks. In addition, the KWS has just received a new four-year "sponsorship of the podium" from the BMO Financial Group to fund the music director's position.
With a budget of C$4.5 million, the KWS lost C$600,000 last year, bringing its accumulated deficit to C$1.2 million. According to an earlier article in Toronto's Globe and Mail, the orchestra's financial crisis stemmed from an unexpected plunge in annual revenue, which then stood at C$400,000 lower than five years ago, even as fundraising barely increased and costs rose.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony faced serious problems ever since Martin Fischer-Dieskau (son of legendary baritone Dietrich), appointed music director in 2001, was fired 18 months later in what was reported as a tug-of-war between an artistically ambitious conductor and a very frugal board of directors. Fischer-Dieskau's musical achievements were highly regarded in the community, and the noisy turmoil surrounding his dismissal led to the departure of several board members and the loss of considerable audience good will.