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Breaking: Swiss orchestra chief is gone almost before he got going

There was much agitation among the cuckoo clocks at the start of the year when Miguel Esteban took over as director general of the once-proud, now moribund Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva. A co-founder of the Verbier Festival, blessed with film-star good looks, Miguel had whiled away a few years in personal banking before the muse called him back. He arrived to find Neeme Järvi coming in as music director to sharpen up playing standards and raise the profile. Good move, everyone thought. He went on to book Gustavo Dudamel, Yuri Temirkanov and Jaap van Zweden for the first time at OSR. The curve started to rise after years of flatness.

But hardly had Miguel got going than he was gone. The statement reads: «L’Orchestre de la Suisse romande porte à votre connaissance que M. Miguel Esteban n’exerce plus les fonctions de directeur général de notre institution.» Which means in plain English that Miguel’s out the door before his loafers touched the floor. Here’s an unilluminating press report.

No-one’s saying why, but the situation reeks of Swiss cheese and intrigue. If you’re an out-of-work orchestra manager, OSR is probably not the first place to send your CV in present circumstances. Unless you’re just in it for the very short term.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Luciano says:

    Brought in Neemi Jarvi to sharpen up playing standards!? Great conductor, but not his bag I’m afraid.

    • Emil Archambault says:

      A bit unfair. Neeme Järvi built the Gothenburg Symphony into Sweden’s greatest orchestra, and one of the very good orchestras in Europe. He “sharpened up playing standards” immensely, and is an immensely respected conductor with the orchestra.

      • Wanderer says:

        “Sweden’s greatest orchestra”? No such thing exists. Every orchestra has to fight for such accolade with every bar they play anew. Musical performance is not architecture.
        Regarding Sweden, we have Stockholm radio and Philharmonics as well, who is to say that Gothenburg is better at any given moment?
        What a conductor builds in quality needs many years… and is easily lost in a few years…

  2. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    My understanding is that there is (was) actually a plan in place. Neeme Jarvi was named to maintain standards while the new Princiipal Guest Conductor, Kazuki Yamada, has a chance to grow into the position of Music Director to which he will probably be named after Jarvi’s short contract expires. Neeme Jarvi has successfully served this role before. Yamada is 32 and won the Besancon conducting competition in 2009 and is a rising star but perhaps not ready (by his own admission, I believe) to take over the OSR position at this moment in his career. That’s just what I hear from the watch, cheese, and banking groupies in beautiful downtown Geneva. The “remerciement” of Miguel Esteban is probably unrelated to the above but does sound rather mysterious. I’m sure Norman will keep us informed.

  3. Wanderer says:

    IIRC Gianandrea Noseda was a contestant for the position but wasn’t chosen. I wonder why.

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