Keith Lockhart to Depart Utah Symphony Podium in 2009 | Playbill

Classic Arts News Keith Lockhart to Depart Utah Symphony Podium in 2009
Utah Symphony music director Keith Lockhart will extend his contract for one year and then step down at the end of the 2008-09 season, report The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News. He will remain as music director emeritus through the 2010-11 season.
Lockhart, who began his tenure in Salt Lake City in 1998, said in a statement, "It is time for me to focus on aspects of my life for which there has been no room during the last decade. In particular, I look forward to re-establishing my guest-conducting presence, particularly in Europe, and spending more time with my family," according to the Morning News

There are reportedly no politics or ill will behind Lockhart's decision to resign. The paper quotes violinist Lynnette Stewart as saying, "[Lockhart's decision] took us by surprise. But I know Maestro Lockhart has had to pass up some great opportunities because of his job as the Utah Symphony music director and as the Boston Pops music director. It's hard to do things you want to while holding down two full-time jobs."

A formal search for a new music director will begin in 2008, with auditions held at the end of the 2008-09 season.

Utah Symphony and Opera CEO and president Anne Ewers told the paper she appreciated Lockhart's input when the US&O nearly went bankrupt in 2005, saying, "Keith was instrumental in coming up with our financial recovery plan. He also helped implement it. He has participated in countless fund-raising events, he helped organize the Deer Valley Music Festival and has made some important business decisions. He is dedicated to the symphony and he is dedicated to the community."

The Tribune, however, writes that "some patrons have been perturbed by what they see as Lockhart's lack of community involvement; a professional consultant's study in 2005 said Lockhart needed to be more engaged with the orchestra for the organization to succeed."

According to the paper, a consultant was hired when orchestra musicians and others complained about financial mismanagement. Following the merger of the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera in 2002, the organization accumulated deficits totaling $3.4 million.

Lockhart was key to organizing the orchestra's first European tour in 19 years, as well as the orchestra's first recording in many years. Symphonic Dances was recorded in April.

In October 2007, Lockhart will begin a part-time position as artistic adviser for the Brevard Music Center's summer institute, which trains young musicians.

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