Neeme J‹rvi Extends Contract as New Jersey SO Music Director by One Season

Classic Arts News   Neeme J‹rvi Extends Contract as New Jersey SO Music Director by One Season
Neeme J‹rvi has extended his term as music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for one additional season, through the summer of 2009. NJSO president Andr_ Gremillet announced the news from the stage of Prudential Hall at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on Friday (Oct. 12) during the opening concert of the orchestra's 2007-08 season.

J‹rvi came to the New Jersey post in the fall of 2005, following his departure from the Detroit Symphony after 15 years as music director (during which, by most accounts, he did outstanding work). His initial contract with the NJSO, for a term of three years, was set to expire at the close of the current season.

"I love making music with the wonderful musicians of the NJSO," said the maestro in a statement released by the orchestra today. "I am excited about our upcoming concerts, and I look forward to bringing great music to New Jersey audiences. I will also do all I can to contribute to the Orchestra's artistic growth beyond 2009."

That final sentence seems to imply that J‹rvi will not stay in his post beyond the end of next season. Another indication in that direction is that, as the New Jersey Star-Ledger observes, J‹rvi will only conduct six programs in his final year with the NJSO, half of what he did last season.

The newspaper does point out, however, that J‹rvi , who lives in New York City, has another position as chief conductor of the Residentie Orchestra in the Hague as well as numerous guest-conducting engagements in Europe. "The lesser schedule is inevitable as the 70-year-old says he doesn't want to overwork himself," said the report.

The NJSO has been dealing with a number of difficulties over the past few years. The orchestra has an accumulated debt of about $15 million, much of it from the now-controversial 2003 purchase of 30 "Golden Age" string instruments — a collection which the orchestra decided to sell earlier this year. In response to its financial situation, the orchestra drew down $3.1 million of what was then a $10 million endowment in the summer of 2006.

Gremillet had better news to offer on Friday night, according to the Star-Ledger. In addition to J‹rvi's contract extension, he told the audience that the orchestra ended last season with a balanced budget, that its nationally syndicated radio series of concert broadcasts would continue, and that philanthropist Margrit McCrane has donated $1.5 million to endow the orchestra's principal viola chair.

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