By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
11:33 AM EDT, March 24, 2014
Christoph Eschenbach has extended his contract as National Symphony Orchestra music director for two years, which keeps him on the podium through 2016-2017. That will be his seventh season.
This is his second contract extension since his tenure started in 2010.
"I am very happy that management and the board agreed in a rather enthusiastic way to the extension, and same with the orchestra," Eschenbach said in a phone interview. "We are sailing the same ship, so to say, and that ship is called quality, great music-making and a passion for what we do. The orchestra has come to the point where every note they play and prepare -- and, by the way, they are always wondefully prepared -- is played for their lives and and the lives of the audience."
The contract extension also covers Eschenbach's role as music director of the Kennedy Center, where he is involved with festivals and a chamber music series.
"I have been in discussions with the new Kennedy Center president, Deborah Rutter, about ways we can work together on new things," Eschenbach said.
The conductor's stamp on the NSO includes the hiring of 13 players, six of them for principal positions.
"That has been a big change, a positive change, in the sound, the quality and personality of the orchestra," Eschenbach said.
That personality was very easy to hear in the NSO's recent performances with the conductor of music by Richard Strauss, including a concert version of "Der Rosenkavlier" and a program of highlights from "Elektra" and "Salome."
Outgoing Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser said that, in his first four seasons, Eschenbach "has elevated the stature of the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center."
The NSO's principal oboist Nicholas Stovall said that musicians are "so pleased that our relationship with Maestro Eschenbach will continue to grow and deepen in the coming years. The collaboration that we share with him, whether as a full orchestra, in roles as concerto soloists, or chamber music partners, is always stimulating and exciting."
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