Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Search ends with CSO landing its choice

Several cities in race for top conductors

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The appointment of Paavo Jarvi as music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ends months of speculation that he was the choice of the orchestra's search committee.

        At a time of unprecedented competition for leaders of the world's greatest orchestras, the 14-member search committee moved quickly. Mr. Jarvi was rumored to have been courted by at least two of the eight major orchestras seeking music directors.

Born: Dec. 30, 1962, Tallinn, Estonia. He emigrated to the United States in 1979; American citizen 1985.

Lives: New York and London.

Marital status: Single.

Occupation: Guest conductor; former principal guest conductor, city of Birmingham (England) Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic.

• Family: Father, Neeme Jarvi, music director, Detroit Symphony Orchestra; mother, Liilia Jarvi; sister, Maarika Jarvi, a flutist; brother, Kristjan Jarvi, assistant conductor, Los Angeles Philharmonic.

• Recordings: 16 recordings; a contract with EMI/Virgin Classics.

• Web site: paavojarvi.com

        Mr. Jarvi spoke about the challenges of today's maestros in an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer last year.

        “Once, a symphony orchestra conductor was a great musical father figure of communities. Today (the symphony) has been reduced to entertainment for the elite,” he said. “The challenge is to keep music an important part of the everyday.”

        The young maestro captured international attention last year, when he stepped in at the last minute for an ill Riccardo Chailly with the Philadelphia Orchestra and made an acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut. “The strings played with a warmth and fullness that recalled the orchestra's years with (Leopold) Stokowski and (Eugene) Ormandy,” reported the New York Times.

        He has garnered praise for an impressive list of guest conducting engagements, recently with the New York, Berlin and Munich Philharmonic orchestras. And, at a time when the classical recording industry is in a slump, Mr. Jarvi has a prestigious contract with EMI/Virgin Classics.

        He is one of a musical dynasty anchored by his father, Neeme Jarvi, the music director of the Detroit Symphony. Besides learning at his father's knee, Mr. Jarvi studied conducting with Leonard Bernstein and former CSO music director Max Rudolf — “so I do feel there is almost an element of fate,” he said.

        The CSO is one of the nation's 20 major orchestras, with a $28.2 million budget (the country's seventh-highest) and an endowment of more than $91 million.

        Its history includes music directors Thomas Schippers, Michael Gielen, Eugene Goossens, Leopold Stokowski and Fritz Reiner.


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