We've known for a little while now that the 2011/12 season will be Stéphane Denève's last as music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. As such, there's been some speculation as to who might replace him. Indeed, for the last few weeks I've had a now redundant draft blog post of rampant speculation sitting on my computer. Perhaps most intriguing was the suggestion by Kenneth Walton in the Scotsman earlier this month that Saraki Oramo, formerly of the CBSO and currently doing great things with both the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and, as our rave reviews of their appearances at the Edinburgh International Festival over the last five years attest, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Given he has never worked with the RSNO, it always seemed rather a long shot. Walton, it turns out, was wide of the mark, both with that, and his suggestion that:
[Outgoing Chief Executive Simon] Woods is unlikely to be party to announcing a replacement, leaving that up to his successor.Yet there did not seem any glaringly obvious choice. Fine young conductor James Lowe hasn't worked with the orchestra since his term as associate conductor ended in 2007, more's the pity. A glance through the guest conductors of the last few seasons didn't throw up any especially obvious candidates either.
In the end, Woods and the RSNO have turned to British Canadian conductor Peter Oundjian (Google reveals differing opinions as to whether it is pronounced "oon-jen", "oon-jun", "un-gin" or "un-jun"). Since 2004 he has been music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a post he will continue to hold concurrently with the RSNO job. True, his CV may look a little thin in conducting terms, given he is in his middle 50s: past posts include principal guest conductorships of the Colorado and Detroit Symphony Orchestras and most of the biggest orchestral names are absent from the list of those he has appeared with. Having said that, in large part this is probably explained by his having spent a good chunk of his career, some 14 years, as first violin of the Tokyo Quartet. And, let's remember, Robin Ticciati came to the SCO with a pretty short CV and is doing great things.