Saturday, 11 October 2008

The SCO's new principal conductor

One of my complaints about the Scottish Chamber Orchestra last season was that they would benefit from appointing a principal conductor, a role that has been vacant since Joseph Swensen's departure in 2005. I did overhear an audience member last year suggesting that the appointment of Olari Elts as principal guest conductor was intended as a stepping stone to the main role, a suggestion which, for various reasons, seemed ominous. Fortunately, we hope, this has proved untrue, or, at least, been supplanted by a new and, by all accounts, somewhat rushed, strategy.

Yesterday the orchestra announed the appointment of Robin Ticciati. I have no idea of the extent to which I this is a good thing, though an appointment in itself is overdue and this review of an April concert with the OAE from the Telegraph is bodes well. Ticciati is very young, only 25, and has never performed with the orchestra in either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Why, then, has he been appointed? Apparently he made his debut this summer for the orchestra's highland tour and so enamoured were the orchestra that they immediately asked managing director Roy McEwan to hire him.

There are promising signs and he seems to have had swift rise, including being named as music director of Glyndebourne on Tour recently, performing with orchestras such as the Staatskapelle Dresden and at La Scala, not to mention becoming the youngest debut conductor at Salzburg.

The Herald and Scotsman both regurgitate the press release, as in fairness we have largely done, and seem never to have heard perform him either; certainly they provide nothing to guess at the sort of performance he may bring.

Unless I try to catch him for Hansel and Gretel at Covent Garden this Christmas I probably won't get the chance to hear him until he performs with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Edinburgh and Glasgow and that won't be until the start of the 2009/10 season when he will do four weeks, rising to eight in subsequent years. Hopefully the Usher Hall will be finished by then. I am more than curious how it will turn out.

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