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Eschenbach extends contract as Music Director of the NSO and Kennedy Center

Eschenbach extends his contract with the NSO and Kennedy Center.
Eschenbach extends his contract with the NSO and Kennedy Center.
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The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts just recently announced a two-year extension of Christoph Eschenbach’s contract as Music Director of both the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center. Currently serving his fourth season in those capacities, Maestro Eschenbach’s current contract runs through the 2014-2015 season. The new two-year agreement extends through the end of the 2016-2017 season.

"For the past four seasons, Maestro Eschenbach has elevated the stature of the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center,” stated Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser. “I am pleased this relationship will continue for an additional two seasons.”

Eschenbach seems to be quite pleased with the recent announcement:

“My experiences here have exceeded my expectations,” Christoph Eschenbach stated. “The NSO is an orchestra eager to make music together, and to make every rehearsal, and every composition an adventure. Even more, the members of the Orchestra are unique artists that I am proud to share with Washington audiences by featuring the members as soloists. The Kennedy Center, also, is such a warmly collaborative, cooperative environment that it provides a strong foundation for all the performing arts, in this extraordinary city and beyond.”

Some of the players had the opportunity to reflect on the decision:

“The musicians of the National Symphony are so pleased that our relationship with Maestro Eschenbach will continue to grow and deepen in the coming years,” said Principal Oboe Nicholas Stovall. “The collaboration that we share with him, whether as a full orchestra, in roles as concerto soloists, or chamber music partners is always stimulating and exciting. I, personally, am greatly looking forward to many more memorable performances with Maestro Eschenbach as Music Director of the NSO.”

The NSO’s recent concert performance of Der Rosenkavalier was greeted with high critical praise, with The Washington Post concluding, “Like all good ‘Rosenkavaliers,’ this was one that audiences here could start to wax nostalgic about almost as soon as it was over,” and the Baltimore Sun calling it, “cosmic music-making.” Elsewhere, Eschenbach’s work was recognized with a Grammy® for “Best Classical Compendium” for his recordings of Hindemith with the NDR Symphony Orchestra.

Maestro Eschenbach has gone beyond principal musicians in showcasing NSO members, selecting three section cellists for Penderecki’s Concerto Grosso. The 2014-2015 season highlights include Mahler Explored (the beginning of a multi-season focus on the orchestral and vocal works of Mahler), Fantasy & Fate: Tchaikovsky Masterworks, and participation in the Kennedy Center’s international project Iberian Suite: arts remix across continents.

During the four seasons of his tenure, which officially began with the 2010-2011 season, Eschenbach has taken the NSO on two international tours, visiting nine countries on four continents. Deutsche Presse Agentur called the NSO “a jewel of the American cultural scene,” and Spain’s La Opinión described the NSO and its performance as, “A splendid orchestra…a stupendous concert.”

Eschenbach has continued the NSO’s active commissioning of new works, and of the nine commissions or co-commissions during his tenure thus far, seven are by American composers: William Banfield, Peter Lieberson, Marc Neikrug, Roger Reynolds, Sean Shepherd, Augusta Read Thomas, and George Walker. Two of those works—the multimedia work by Roger Reynolds and Lieberson’s composition for narrator and orchestra—have paid tribute to former American heads of state: America’s founding father George Washington and President John F. Kennedy, for whom the Kennedy Center serves as a living memorial.

Christoph Eschenbach has hired or confirmed in tenure 13 NSO members, among them six principal players, and two assistant principal players. He has performed as part of the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts in the Terrace Theater three times, and on the Millennium Stage five times, as well as in the NSO’s community engagement program, In Your Neighborhood. He also has worked with students in the NSO’s nationally recognized Youth Fellowship Program in four side-by-side NSO rehearsals, with a fifth to come in June.

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