Daniel Barenboim, the CSO's current music director, departs at the end of this season; the 2006-07 conductor lineup includes CSO principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez; plus Christoph von Dohnšnyi, Charles Dutoit, Riccardo Muti, Kent Nagano, David Robertson, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Slatkin last conducted the CSO in April 2005; he is not booked for the 2006-07 season. He has performed for Chicago audiences recently, however, leading the NSO yesterday in Chicago in a program that included Barber's Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, and Melinda Wagner's Extremity of Sky, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, a CSO commission.
Asked about the rumors, Slatkin told the Tribune, "At the moment, my gut says I need to step away from running an organization for a while. The other side of me says, I remember saying that when I left St. Louis! If the CSO came to me with [an offer], I wouldn't rule it out."
He told the paper that he is leaving the NSO in part because of difficulty with the orchestra board members and Kennedy Center officials, whose vision for the future of the NSO differs from Slatkins. "The administration wants to move to a more secure and traditional base; that's not what I do. After a certain point, it became very obvious it was time [for me] to finish up," he said.
Slatkin has been music director of the NSO since 1996. His current contract, signed in 2002, expires at the end of this season. He had originally planned to leave this year, but said earlier, "I was persuaded to remain two further seasons to ensure a proper transition to new musical leadership."
During his tenure at the NSO, Slatkin has championed American music and commissioned 64 new works from American composers.