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Jansons to stay with PSO, renew annually

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

By Andrew Druckenbrod, Post-Gazette Classical Music Critic

Mariss Jansons has reaffirmed his commitment to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, ending a long period of speculation that the conductor might leave for a similar post at one of several orchestras worldwide.

Jansons, 58, speaking yesterday at Heinz Hall, said he agreed to stay in Pittsburgh as music director at a meeting of the orchestra's board of directors earlier that afternoon.

"I feel very happy to work with this great orchestra -- I think our musical relationship becomes closer and closer," said Jansons. He also cited a growing relationship with the greater Pittsburgh community. "Here is a wonderful community. The people are extremely nice -- not arrogant -- and very supportive."

Gideon Toeplitz, the orchestra's managing director, explained that the basics of Jansons' contract will not change. His three-year contract remains evergreen, with Jansons renewing for an additional year annually. Negotiations for the renewal are expected to begin soon.

Jansons did disclose that in 2003 he will drop his number of subscription concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony from the present 10 to eight. He takes over as music director of Munich's Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra that year.

"My feeling is if you stay longer it doesn't mean that you should conduct more," he said. "Because you know already each other. ... The combination should be always fresh and exciting."

Several PSO musicians expressed excitement about the news.

"I am thrilled," said principal English horn player Harold Smoliar. "I think it is a good for the orchestra."

"This is very good news," said principal bassoonist Nancy Goeres. "We were a little nervous about the Bavarian job, because there is a limit to what one person can do. We were hopeful that he would keep both orchestras."

Smoliar added, "The conductor talent pool that's out there must be minuscule, so if you don't have to go fishing, it's great."

Several Pittsburgh officials, including Mayor Tom Murphy, who had written letters to Jansons in the fall urging him to stay with the local orchestra, were pleased at the announcement.

"It was clear that there was a lot desire on the part of Pittsburgh to keep Jansons here," said Craig Kwiecinski, a spokesman for the mayor. "He clearly is a cultural leader for Pittsburgh, and his contributions have resulted in critical acclaim for Pittsburgh, nationally and internationally."

Jansons' announcement all but ends the long period of music director musical chairs that has kept the classical music scene unsettled. Jansons was a candidate for many posts, including the Berlin Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic, which chose former PSO Music Director Lorin Maazel.

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