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Orchestra boss quits, citing too much time on the road

Andreas Richter is stepping down after six brilliantly entrepreneurial years as chief executive of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, effective from March. He loves the job, but compains it keeps him away from home 100 nights a year – and that’s too much for a man with a young family.

It’s excessive for musicians, too. Your thoughts, please?

Andreas’s successor will be Ole Baekhoej, head of the Danish national radio orchestra in Copenhagen.

Press release: Berlin, 19 November 2012 – The Mahler Chamber Orchestra announces the appointment of Ole Baekhoej to the position of Chief Executive of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. The 42-year-old native of Denmark takes up the Chief Executive role for a 5 year period starting in April 2013.   

Annette zu Castell, member of the MCO board: “We are delighted to announce the appointment of Ole Baekhoej as Chief Executive. We believe that his personality, skills, and background are ideally suited for leading the orchestra in its further development. Already during our initial conversations we found that we have a common understanding of what we believe is special about the MCO and what we want to try to achieve in the future.”

Ole Baekhoej: “I am excited and honoured to have been offered this opportunity to work closely with the excellent musicians and staff of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Together with them it is my aim to create future opportunities for more great music-making. During my time as a free-lance double bass player, I enjoyed the wonderful chance to work with some of the very best professional orchestras, and I have also experienced the amazing joy of music-making through playing in some of the finest international youth orchestras. The MCO somehow manages to combine these two qualities in a very special way. I look forward to contributing my experience as a musician and as a manager to further develop this unique orchestra.”

The 42-year-old native Dane Ole Baekhoej has more than 10 years of orchestra management experience. He was General Manager of Gabrieli Consort & Players in London from 2001 to 2008 and Artistic & Executive Director of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra of the Danish Radio in Copenhagen from 2008 to 2012. He studied music in Denmark and the Netherlands, played double bass with several international youth orchestras (Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra, EUYO and EUBO) and later worked as a professional freelance musician with orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Radio Chamber Orchestra in Hilversum, and the early music ensemble Concerto Copenhagen.

Elaborating on his thoughts for the future of the MCO, Baekhoej emphasizes partnerships: “Looking at the impressive results achieved by the relatively young organisation in a very competitive international classical music environment, it strikes me that the MCO has a very special ability to forge unique and innovative partnerships with artists and organisations. I believe that this approach also holds great potential for the future – by nurturing existing relationships and at the same time staying open-minded and creative while looking for further partnership opportunities.”

During the tenure of current General Manager Andreas Richter, the MCO has enjoyed much international success in opera, concerts, and recordings, and the MCO’s administrative structure has been professionalised and developed. Andreas Richter established new funding sources and support networks for the orchestra, including the MCO Foundation and the MCO’s role as Cultural Ambassador for the European Union. New important initiatives such as the education and outreach programme MCO Landings and the MCO Academy with activities on five continents have been successfully developed and implemented. Annette zu Castell: “We are grateful to Andreas Richter for all the excellent work that he has done for our orchestra since 2007 and we look forward to our continued collaboration until the end of his term in March 2013.”

Ole Baekhoej takes up the Chief Executive role for a 5 year period starting in April 2013.

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Comments

  1. I quit orchestral playing for exactly that reason. Not tempted back either! It is economically, environmentally and artistically unjustifiable! There are only so many airports and hotels that are good for your mental health!

  2. This is the trick with high level orchestras seeking residencies and other forms of partnership that take players and their handlers on the road often. If your happy with high turnover in the orchestra and in management, by all means, keep building them, but if you want players and managers committing a longer duration to the company, then this is not the solution. With everything, its about establishing priorities and balance in life.

  3. In this new age of technology and 1984 “cult of the leader” (a la Leo McKern in “the Prisoner”), I wonder if symphony societies could teleconference their conductors from their homes to conduct an otherwise full orchestra in back tie and tails on stage, to accommodate maestros like RIchter. It might, for example, be presented on a huge screen above the stage visible in both directions so the audience could be as mesmerized (or bored) as the orchestra members, and even with multiple subsidiary screens to catch the maestro at various angles (and in various positions). It might even be tailored for the specific conductor- so that, for example, the next Bernstein could have an MTV video team following him with a dollop of Bourne Trilogy, while an Abbado could have head shots primarily focused on his ombrasure (sic., orthodonture) to feel his (and our) pain. And you could have another screen with the score and a little dancing “hello kitty” moving from note to note, so that the audience would be able to know when the trumpets missed an entry or a fiddle player was out of tune.

    Something to think about for an orchestra trying to save a few bucks while upgrading to a more hi-tech or state of the art experience.

  4. Eric Benjamin says:

    RIchter was Chief Exec – an administrative post, ed – he is not a conductor.

  5. Nice to see that some people who leave a job “to spend more time with their family” actually do intend to spend more time with their family. If soloists, conductors and orchestras spent less time whizzing round the world, they might save some money, have more time to spend on families or other things they like, have less jet lag, and reduce their carbon footprint also.

  6. I’ve not heard of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, so I looked it up. (Hey, I don’t get around much–I’m busy with work and a young family!)

    They are a professional touring orchestra, with no home base.

    I agree with Mr. Richter. It sounds to me like a wonderful and exciting opportunity for a young professional, but a poor choice for a parent.

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