Kent Nagano to Stay at Helm of Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal until 2016

By: Sep. 24, 2012
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In the wake of a memorable season that witnessed the inauguration of Maison symphonique, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal announces the extension of the contract of its music director, Maestro Kent Nagano, through to the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season. The OSM and Kent Nagano are pleased to confirm that they are carrying on their fruitful collaboration by exercising the option of the two additional years stipulated in the current three-year contract, which has been in effect since September 2011. That collaboration may continue for a longer period further to a mutual agreement between the two parties.

From the moment of his appointment to the title of music director in September 2006, Kent Nagano has distinguished himself by the presentation of innovative concerts that are a source of common bond, and through his initiatives with respect to the community, which have kindled pride and enthusiasm in Montrealers – all the while contributing to the prestige of the Orchestra here and elsewhere.

The chairman of the OSM board, Mr. Lucien Bouchard, expressed his delight at being able to count on the excellence of the Orchestra’s music director: “Maestro Nagano’s creative vision has contributed magnificently to the success of the OSM, particularly in the framework of the inaugural season of our new home, Maison symphonique de Montréal. We are thrilled at the prospect of undertaking future projects with him, such as the 80th anniversary of the OSM, the welcoming of the Grand Orgue Pierre Béique, and, of course, further recordings and tours.”

“This agreement extends the length of Kent Nagano’s mandate with the OSM to ten years, in addition to his two years as music advisor,” stated OSM chief executive officer Madeleine Careau. “Kent Nagano is an exceptional conductor whose work is warmly welcomed by audiences and critics alike. His commitment to our community and his unflagging dedication to offering programs of the highest artistic quality – programs that move music lovers and the general public in today’s context – have contributed greatly to the success of our organization, both in the city itself and on the international scene.”

This is Kent Nagano’s second contract with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal as music director. The first contract, of five years’ duration, ran from 2006 to 2011. The second contract, for an original duration of three years and renewable for an additional two years, became effective on September 1, 2011.

“I am honored and delighted to accept the OSM's generous invitation to continue the engagement as music director of this extraordinary, brilliant, and prestigious orchestra with whom I have had the privilege of sharing so many special and outstanding artistic experiences over the past years,” explained Maestro Nagano. “The opening of OSM's new home has been a moment of exceptional joy, symbolizing the importance of the musical arts in our 21st century, and confirming the greatness of the city of Montreal while illuminating its presence on the international stage. The OSM has made unusually exciting developments over the past 7 years and now it is important to stabilize these gains while continuing our evolution and looking forward. In culture we must always reevaluate and reflect upon the changes of the world and especially in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. As complex and challenging as they are, I find our times fascinating, lively, fruitful and look forward to bringing Quebec's inspiring traditions and its orchestra culture via the OSM into the new and different context of the 21st century. ”

Kent Nagano is renowned for interpretations of clarity, elegance and intelligence. He is equally at home in music of the classical, romantic and contemporary eras, introducing concert and opera audiences throughout the world to new and rediscovered music and offering fresh insights into established repertoire. In September 2006 he became Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and General Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

In September 2011, Kent Nagano and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal inaugurated Maison symphonique de Montréal, their new residence. This concert hall was made possible by the Government of Québec and was built by architects Diamond & Schmitt and Ædifica in cooperation with Artec Consultants Inc. for acoustics and theatre design.

Highlights with the orchestra have included the complete cycles of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies, Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, concert versions of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, Das Rheingold and Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise, and concert series featuring the works of Dutilleux (2010-2011) and Boulez (2011-2012). Nagano has taken the orchestra on a coast-to-coast tour of Canada and also to Japan, South Korea, on an extensive European tour, to Nunavik in Northern Québec (with seven OSM musicians), twice to Carnegie Hall, and to the Edinburgh International Festival. The OSM has recorded eight albums under Kent Nagano: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with tenor Klaus Florian Vogt and baritone Christian Gerhaher (Sony), works by composer Unsuk Chin featuring violinist Viviane Hagner (Analekta), Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 4 (1926) and Scriabin’s Prometheus with Alain Lefèvre (Analekta), Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 4 and 5 with Till Fellner (ECM/Universal) and Symphonies Nos. 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9 (Sony/Analekta). Symphony No. 9 was recorded during the inaugural concerts of Maison symphonique de Montréal.

Born in California, Nagano maintains close connections with his home state and was Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra from 1978 to 2008. His early professional years were spent in Boston, working in the opera house and as assistant conductor to Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He played a key role in the world premiere of Messiaen’s opera Saint François d’Assise at the request of the composer, who became a mentor and bequeathed his piano to the conductor. Nagano’s success in America led to European appointments: Music Director of Opéra National de Lyon (1988-1998) and Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra (1991-2000).

A very important period in Nagano’s career was his time as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, from 2000 to 2006. He performed Schönberg’s Moses und Aron with the orchestra and took them to the Salzburg Festival to perform both Zemlinsky’s Der König Kandaules and Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, as well as to the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden with Parsifal (2004) and Lohengrin (2006) in a production by Nikolaus Lehnhoff. In June 2006, at the end of his tenure with the orchestra, he was given the title Honorary Conductor by Members of The orchestra, only the second recipient of this honor in their sixty-year history.

Kent Nagano became the first Music Director of Los Angeles Opera in 2003, having already held the position of Principal Conductor for two years. His work in other opera houses has included Shostakovich’s The Nose (Staatsoper Berlin), Rimsky Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel (Châtelet, Paris), Hindemith’s Cardillac (Opéra national de Paris), Dialogues des Carmélites (Metropolitan Opera) and at the Salzburg Festival Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Zemlinsky’s Der Koenig Kandaules, Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten and the world premiere of Saariaho’s L’amour de loin. Other world premieres include Bernstein’s A White House Cantata and operas by Peter Eötvös (Three Sisters) and John Adams (The Death of Klinghoffer and El Niño).

As a much sought after guest conductor Nagano has worked with most of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Vienna, Berlin and New York Philharmonics, the Chicago Symphony, the Dresden Staatskapelle and Leipzig Gewandhaus. He has an ongoing relationship with Sony Classical and has also recorded for Erato, Teldec, Pentatone and Deutsche Grammophon as well as Harmonia Mundi, winning Grammy awards for his recordings of Busoni’s Doktor Faust with Opéra National de Lyon, Peter and the Wolf with the Russian National Orchestra and Saariaho’s L’amour de Loin with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. For Bayerische Staatsoper, Nagano has commissioned new operas by Wolfgang Rihm (Das Gehege), Unsuk Chin (Alice in Wonderland) and Jörg Widmann (Babylon) along with new productions of Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, Mozart’s Idomeneo, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Schweigsame Frau, Poulenc’s Les Dialogues des Carmélites, Messiaen’s St François d’Assise, Berg’s Wozzeck and Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. With the Bayerisches Staatsorchester Nagano has toured throughout Europe and in Japan, and together they have recorded Bruckner’s Symphonies Nos. 4 and 7 (Sony).

The recipient of honorary doctorates from McGill University and Université de Montréal, Mr. Nagano also received the title of Montreal Honorary Citizen in 2007. One year later he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, the most prestigious decoration given by Japan to a non-Japanese. In March 2012 he was awarded the Medal of Honor from the National Assembly of the Province of Québec.

For further information on Kent Nagano, visit


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