Ivan Fischer has been named principal conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, a two-year appointment that begins with the 2008-2009 season.
The NSO's search for a new music director to succeed Leonard Slatkin, who steps down at the end of the 2007-2008 season, will continue.
The Hungarian-born Fischer, founding director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, is currently the NSO's principal guest conductor. Until recently, he was widely considered to be a strong candidate for the music director post. "The principal conductor designation is the best fit for both of us," NSO spokeswoman Patricia O'Kelly said yesterday.
A principal conductor position typically does not include the full authority, especially on personnel matters, associated with a music director. But Fischer will be "an overall artistic adviser," O'Kelly said, and will conduct the orchestra on any touring during his tenure, including the NSO's annual "American Residency" programs held in a different state each year.
In a statement released yesterday, NSO board chairman Ann Jordan praised the "chemistry onstage" between Fischer and the orchestra. "His artistry will greatly enhance the next few seasons, while we continue the search for our sixth music director," Jordan said.
Fischer said he "was pleased with the prospect of intensifying our work together. ... I want to offer my help and commitment to assist this excellent orchestra during its transitional period."