August 21, 2013

Andrew Litton named music director of Colorado Symphony

by Neil Westergaard, Denver Business Journal

DENVER, CO - The Colorado Symphony Orchestra formally announced Tuesday that internationally acclaimed conductor Andrew Litton will be the orchestra's new music director, broadening his role with the orchestra with significantly larger influence over the future of the CSO and its music.

Litton, was named artistic adviser in 2012, and is on the schedule to conduct six concerts with the CSO in the current season. That will expand in subsequent seasons.

More importantly, as music director, Litton will have a more direct role planning the orchestra's schedule and music selections.

"Over the past year, it became increasingly evident that the Colorado Symphony has what it takes to be one of America's top orchestras. Its management knows what it takes to get there. It has made great strides in securing the orchestra's future. Its superb musicians have passion for what they do. I want to be part of that winning team," Litton said.

"It's a great compliment that someone of Andrew's caliber believes this is one of the best orchestras in the country. . . and that he can take it to new heights," said Jerome Kern, co-chair of the CSO. "He's one of these people who dreams big. It's a big deal for us."

The CSO, with Litton's help, is negotiating two recording contracts with European classical music labels, a long-sought goal of the orchestra. It's part of an expanded outreach and audience-cultivation effort begun two years ago when the CSO board bolted in a dispute with musicians over contract language.

With a new board and new day-to-day leadership, the CSO has dramatically increased the number of appearances by the orchestra and arranged a vastly expanded schedule of smaller ensembles. It has broadened musical selections and promoted the orchestra to a younger crowd of music lovers.

But, while ticket sales have climbed and more concerts are on the schedule, the CSO faces continuing challenges in raising money. Earlier this year, Kern said that unless fundraising efforts are more successful or a permanent source of funding is secured, such as through an endowment, the long-term future of the orchestra is in doubt.

What's not in doubt is the influence of having a world-renowned conductor at the helm as music director.

"Andrew inspires and challenges our already great orchestra," Kern said. "He knows how to build orchestras and earn world recognition. He's a great communicator on and off the podium. Andrew brings a wealth of experience and contacts to the orchestra."

Litton, 54, is music director of Norway's Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, and has guest-conducted with dozens of the world's top orchestras, including Hong Kong, the National Symphony of Ireland, the Netherlands Philharmonic, the Belgian National Orchestra, Hamburg Symphony, the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., and the Vancouver Symphony.