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HomeMusicEsa-Pekka Salonen resigns from San Francisco Symphony : NPR

Esa-Pekka Salonen resigns from San Francisco Symphony : NPR


San Francisco Symphony music director Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

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Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

San Francisco Symphony music director Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The San Francisco Symphony introduced Thursday the resignation of its music director, Esa-Pekka Salonen.

The famed Finnish conductor and composer stated he plans to depart when his contract expires on the finish of the 2024-25 season.

“I’ve determined to not proceed as music director of the San Francisco Symphony, as a result of I don’t share the identical targets for the way forward for the establishment because the Board of Governors does,” Salonen stated in an announcement shared by his publicist with NPR. “I’m sincerely wanting ahead to the various thrilling applications we’ve deliberate for my closing season as music director, and am proud to proceed working with the world-class musicians of the San Francisco Symphony.”

San Francisco Symphony board chair Priscilla Geeslin known as Salonen’s determination “bittersweet” in a press launch. “This has been an thrilling period for the symphony and we’re so grateful for Esa-Pekka’s considerate management and collaborative strategy,” Geeslin stated.

The San Francisco Symphony employed Salonen in 2018, and he started his tenure with the orchestra within the 2020-21 season. Constructing on the work of his longtime predecessor Michael Tilson Thomas, Salonen solidified the group’s repute as a serious power in American classical music throughout his quick directorship.

He introduced on a various group of inventive advisors together with Nico Muhly, Claire Chase and Esperanza Spalding, and combined classics with modern programming usually fused with expertise.

However like many arts organizations, the orchestra has been struggling financially lately. It misplaced thousands and thousands of projected {dollars} in earnings through the Covid pandemic, and had additionally seen steep declines in subscribers and donations earlier than the shutdown occurred.

The group not too long ago canceled touring and made cuts to its experimental and academic programming.

Nonetheless, the orchestra has amassed one of many healthiest endowments within the enterprise. It stood at roughly $315 million in 2023, up from $273 million in 2019.

Longterm symphony violist David Gaudry informed NPR he was “saddened and shocked” by the information.

“We have had some inkling that issues weren’t all nicely between the music director and the board based mostly on the cancellation of our 2025 tour for subsequent September to Europe,” Gaudry stated. “To do a cancellation of a world tour was type of a dramatic step. It was unprecedented.”

Gaudry expressed each his skilled and private admiration for Salonen. “He is a terrific musician and only a very nice man,” Gaudry stated. He additionally stated he sees the music director’s departure as a bigger existential downside.

“The truth that we’ve spent all these many years type of constructing as much as a nationally acknowledged arts establishment, this specific scenario is an actual risk to our place within the arts group,” Gaudry stated.

“It is a horrible growth for this group, for this metropolis, for this complete, musical group,” stated Joshua Kosman, classical music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. “Esa-Pekka has been, or had promised to turn into, a power for experimentation, innovation and vigorous music-making of all types. I do know he had loads of plans going ahead for issues that the orchestra may do. And all of that may now be dropped at a detailed.”




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