Uncertainty around Kent Nagano's tenure at Montreal Symphony

Kent Nagano's tenure at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra appears uncertain following reports that the American conductor will depart the orchestra when his current contract as music director expires in 2016. But the orchestra's management has vigorously denied the reports.

A report this month from Montreal's La Presse stated that Nagano's contract with the orchestra won't be renewed beyond 2016. The report, written by Claude Gingras, cites sources saying that Zarin Mehta is helping the orchestra find Nagano's successor. It said conductor Vasily Petrenko is being mentioned as a possible successor. 

A separate report in the Canadian publication Maclean's suggested that Nagano, onetime music director of Los Angeles Opera, may not be popular within the orchestra.

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"I hear through the musicians' grapevine that Nagano is not universally loved by the OSM [Orchestre symphonique de Montreal]," wrote journalist Paul Wells.

"He is seen as a micromanager who doesn’t let the players bring enough of their own insight to the music. But I doubt that would have counted for much in the board's decision about his continued tenure." 

In a statement issued Friday, the orchestra's management said it "wishes to formally deny any rumours in regards to the end of the contract or the replacement of [Nagano] as music director of the OSM."

The orchestra said that "after 2016, the contract of Kent Nagano may be renewed further to a mutual agreement between the two parties."

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Gingras said via e-mail that he doesn't wish to comment further following the orchestra's statement. 

Nagano began his tenure as music director of the Montreal orchestra in 2006. He was previously the lead conductor of Los Angeles Opera from 2001 to 2006 and served as the company's first music director.

He currently holds the top conducting post at the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, but is expected to leave the company when his contract expires in August. His tenure in Munich has reportedly been a contentious one. 

Last year, Nagano was named principal guest conductor and artistic advisor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden. Gustavo Dudamel led the Swedish orchestra for five years before stepping down last year.


Letter from Sweden: Gustavo in Gothenburg 

Kent Nagano: California guy gets comfy in Bavaria

Gustavo Dudamel, Kent Nagano in leadership change at Gothenburg 


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