Barenboim's Honorary Title Causes Controversy in Chicago

Classic Arts News   Barenboim's Honorary Title Causes Controversy in Chicago
The "Honorary Conductor for Life" title bestowed on Daniel Barenboim, departing music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, turns out not to have been an accolade unanimously supported by musicians, reports The Chicago Tribune.

Barenboim announced the players' honor during remarks he made from the stage at his final concert with the orchestra on June 17. The statement was drafted by CSO musicians following a June 15 rehearsal preparing for the final concert.

But, according to the Tribune, only one-third of the CSO musicians voted for the resolution, drafted by violist Max Raimi, passing it by a 3-1 margin. In other words, 30 musicians approved; ten did not.

CSO bassist Mark Kraemer wrote a letter to the Tribune the vote last week, making the matter public; he argues that the honor should have been put to a vote of the entire orchestra. Stephen Lester, who chairs the CSO orchestra members committee, told the paper that there wasn't enough time to gather the whole orchestra for the vote.

The Tribune article took pains to reiterate that only the Chicago Symphony Association, the orchestra's governing body, can formally confer a title upon Barenboim or any other conductor and that the musicians' tribute was strictly honorary.

Barenboim, 63, was appointed principal guest conductor at La Scala last month and remains general music director at Berlin's Staatsoper, as well as lifetime chief conductor of the opera's Staatskapelle orchestra.

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