Mariss Jansons Gives Inaugural Concert as Chief Conductor of Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Monday, September 06, 2004
Latvian Mariss Jansons gave his inaugural concert on Saturday [4 September] as the new chief conductor of the Dutch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO), following in the footsteps of Riccardo Chailly, who had led the RCO for 15 years.
Jansons will be the RCO's sixth chief conductor in 116 years, according to the orchestra's executive director Jan Willem Loot, who calculated that there was a change of leadership on average every 20 years.
"This is a very exciting moment in my life, a new chapter," Jansons told journalists on Saturday. "To be the chief conductor of such a legendary orchestra is very special and brings great joy but also a great responsibility."
For his opening concert Jansons directed Franco-Swiss composer Arthur Honegger's Third Symphony and Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben, both pieces he has performed before with the RCO in the 16 years he has worked as a guest conductor.
Ein Heldenleben is a symbolic piece because it was dedicated to the RCO and its then-chief conductor Willem Mengelberg, who had a legendary 50-year run with the orchestra between 1895 and 1945.
Some culture buffs in the Netherlands have expressed concern that the RCO will have to share Jansons with the orchestra of Bayerische Rundfunk [Bavarian Radio] in Munich, where he is also the musical director.
"Before I accepted this job I analysed this difficult situation. But how can you say no to the Concertgebouw Orchestra? It is impossible," Jansons said. "I must be faithful to both orchestras like a father is with his children. You must not love one more than the other," he assured the Dutch and German press in Amsterdam.
He went on to praise both orchestras for being very musically intelligent. "It is most important that people do not just play notes but that they understand what is behind it," he said.
In spite of the Concertgebouw Orchestra's history of having very long-serving chief conductors, Jansons, 61, has only signed a three-year contract.
"Who knows what will happen in life? Sometimes the chemistry works, sometimes it does not. It is like a marriage. I do not like to sign long contracts," the conductor explained. But he added: "Of course I would like to work with the orchestra for a very long time."
In the 2004ñ05 season the peices Jansons will conduct include Mahler's Sixth Symphony and Stravinsky's Petrushka. The RCO and Jansons are scheduled to perform at the Lucerne Festival and will be on tour in Japan this coming November.
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