Leonard Slatkin Appointed Music Director of Detroit Symphony

Classic Arts News   Leonard Slatkin Appointed Music Director of Detroit Symphony
After a five-year search, Leonard Slatkin has been named music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

"I really couldn't be more delighted," the 63-year-old conductor told the Detroit Free Press. "If I could start tomorrow, I would."

Slatkin officially begins his three-year term in 2008. During his first season, he will conduct for five weeks and in 2009-2010, lead half the DSO's performances (13 weeks).

Orchestra president Anne Parsons would not reveal the conductor's salary, reports The Detroit News, though his predecessor, Neeme J‹rvi, earned $600,000 for his last season with the orchestra in 2005. Slatkin received $1.2 million that year with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., of which he has been musical director since 1996.

Slatkin had been at the center of deliberations since guest conducting the DSO at the end of May and early June, his first stint with the orchestra in 20 years. Strong chemistry between both parties impelled the orchestra to engage him in July for two concerts at the Meadow Brook Music Festival.

"I heard that one musician actually walked up to him as and asked, 'Would you be music director here?' " the Detroit Free Press reported clarinetist and search committee member Doug Cornelsen as saying. "Slatkin said, 'Yes, but you would have to hurry.' "

By August, Slatkin made it clear he wanted a more permanent role with the DSO.

"Five months ago, this wasn't even on my radar," he told The Detroit News, "and now I could not be more excited."

Among Slatkin's initial goals are increasing subscriptions through diversified programming and strengthening the DSO's relationship with the community through education programs. He'd also like to adopt a stronger American identity through emerging composers and expand the orchestra's French repertoire.

His extensive credentials include an enormously fruitful term with the St. Loius Symphony Orchestra, which he led from 1979 to 1996. Slatkin turned the ensemble into a top American orchestra, landing a 30-disc recording contract with BMG, touring Europe and Asia, and broadcasting weekly national radio concerts.

He joined the National Symphony in 1996 and three years later, was appointed The BBC Symphony Orchestra's music director, a position he held from 2000 to 2004.

Slatkin will finish his tenure with the NSO in 2008.

"In me, the DSO has a music director in the true sense of the word," he said. "I'll be involved in every aspect of the job. Then when things go wrong, it's my fault. And when things go right, it's my fault."

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