June 24, 2012
Andrew Litton named Artistic Advisor for the Colorado Symphony
The Colorado Symphony Orchestra is making it official today: Internationally known conductor Andrew Litton will join its staff.
Litton will take on a new position for the CSO, serving as "artistic adviser." In that capacity, he will program the orchestra's major concerts and conduct at least two programs during its regular season. His three-year contract starts Sept. 1.
"The CSO is getting its own Peyton Manning," said CSO board chairman Jerry Kern. "We believe, and the orchestra believes, they play better under his leadership."
Litton, 53, a passionate conductor with a particularly graceful swing of the baton, is a familiar face in Denver. He has conducted several times for the CSO over the past few seasons, including a program in March that featured the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance company.
He is also recognized around the globe. He serves as music director for the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway, and from 1994 to 2006 he was music director for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. His upcoming calendar includes guest stints with top ensembles in Boston; London; Melbourne, Australia; and Tokyo.
Litton's hiring ends a long, on-and-off search for artistic leadership at the CSO and signals to patrons that the organization is past the financial crisis that nearly put it out of business last year. He follows Jeffrey Kahane, who announced his resignation four years ago, onto the podium.
Unlike Kahane and his predecessor, popular conductor Marin Alsop, Litton will not take the typical title of "music director" here. His busy schedule will limit the amount of time he spends in Denver.
Orchestras more typically hire "advisers" on an interim basis, but Litton's already-busy schedule prohibited him from making a stronger, or longer, commitment. The CSO, which is formally introducing him at a media event this morning, wants Litton to stick around but will keep its options open in case the arrangement lasts only through the current contract.
"My hope is that he falls even more in love with the orchestra than he already is and that he stays as music director," Kern said.
Litton is already set to conduct the orchestra through Verdi's "Requiem" next March, followed by Mahler's Symphony No. 6 in April. Another performance is likely to be added today.
Orchestra concertmaster Yumi Hwang-Williams said Litton is a favorite with the musicians who ranked guest conductors on their musicianship and leadership during the past few seasons.
That Litton was interested in a more direct role here is an affirmation of the orchestra's national stature, she said.
"This is someone who has been a professional conductor for most of his life," said Hwang-Williams. "He has a great depth and breadth of actual experience to draw upon."
Ray Mark Rinaldi, Denver Post