Music Director Larry Rachleff Announces Retirement From the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra
After nearly two decades shepherding the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra through considerable growth, Music Director Larry Rachleff will complete his distinguished tenure at the Philharmonic following the 2016-17 season.
Rachleff, who lives with his family in Houston, decided not to renew his contract so he may spend more time with his family. He'll continue serving as Professor of Orchestral Conducting at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, in Houston.
"It's time for me to pass the reins on to the next person," Rachleff said. "It has been a tremendous and important honor for me to serve as Music Director these past two decades. Leaving will be very difficult and a significant loss for me in so many ways, but with two seasons left to go, there is much to accomplish and important and inspirational projects to be completed. "
Rachleff will conduct his 20th Season this year, and will conclude his tenure with 21 full seasons as Music Director. During his time at the Philharmonic, Rachleff has established a reputation as an Orchestra builder, having shaped the Philharmonic into one of the finest regional orchestras in the United States. Local audiences have responded: In just the last three seasons, single ticket sales have increased 51 percent and the number of subscribers is up 46 percent - impressive statistics coming at a time when major orchestras are reporting audience declines.
During his tenure in Providence, Rachleff helped establish the Philharmonic Music School, now among the largest community musical schools in the country. He also supported education programs that reach more than 25,000 students across the region each year.
The Philharmonic's innovative Amica Rush Hour Series, created under Rachleff, has seen some of the organization's strongest growth. This informal concert series has proven popular with audiences of all ages, particularly young professionals and families. Rachleff's rapport with audiences is a key part of the series' success.
The Philharmonic's Board of Directors will immediately commence a search to find Rachleff's successor.
"Larry is not just a phenomenal conductor and music director, he is one of the foremost music educators in the United States, and the Music School here has grown and flourished under his influence," said Executive Director David Beauchesne. "Larry has created a great foundation for our organization artistically and educationally. His departure in two years will be a huge loss, but also a tremendous opportunity for someone to come in and build on his amazing legacy."
The orchestra will spend the next two years celebrating Rachleff with exciting performances, including premieres of commissioned works by Nico Muhly and Christopher Theofanides; continued collaborations with the Providence Singers; galas with flautist James Galway and pianist Lang Lang; favorite guest artists from Larry's tenure, as well as exciting "new" artists; and some of the repertoire Larry is most known for, like Shostakovich, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.
Larry Rachleff's retirement does not come as a surprise to the orchestra, after such a long tenure, but many orchestra members are sad that he will be leaving. Concert-master Charles Dimmick remarked: "It has been a profound joy to work so closely with an artist who brings such passion for the music he conducts. His enthusiasm, intensity, and pursuit of the loftiest artistic standards are a constant source of inspiration to those of us on stage. It is not only Larry's singular artistic gifts that I will miss, however; it is his remarkable ability to communicate his deep and sincere love of music to young people, which is truly extraordinary to witness. It is a rare talent that can inspire such greatness from the youngest students to the most experienced professionals. His contribution to the region is exceptional, and he will be sincerely and deeply missed by us all.
"Larry has been and incredible artistic leader for our organization," said Board Chair Marie Langlois. "In many ways it is hard to imagine the Philharmonic without him; however, we are in an excellent position to attract exceptional candidates to succeed him. With the quality of the Orchestra Larry has built, the unique and thriving Music School, the organization's deep educational and artistic partnerships with the community, and our growing financial strength there is no doubt that we will find a remarkable person to help us imagine and realize the next phase of the Philharmonic's development."
About the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School
The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School is the largest fully integrated orchestra and music school in the United States. It enriches and transforms Rhode Island and Southern New England through great music performance and education.
2015-2016 is the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra's 71st Season and Music Director Larry Rachleff's 20thanniversary with the Orchestra. The eight-concert Saturday Classical Series features world-renowned guest artists including pianists Lilya Zilberstein, Lukas Vonracek and Alexander Toradze, violinists Benjamin Beilman, Angelo Xiang Yu and Tracy Silverman, and Cellist Julie Albers. The four-concert Friday Amica Rush Hour Series offers an earlier start time and shorter program with full performances of select repertoire from theSaturday Classical concerts and musical discussion provided by Larry Rachleff and Host Cathy Fuller of WCRB Classical Radio. Four Friday Open Rehearsals offer audience members insight into the collaboration between the conductor, guest artists and orchestra musicians in an informal environment that is perfect for families. Special Concerts include the perennial holiday favorite Handel's Messiah with The Providence Singers onSaturday, December 12 and a special Gala Evening with Sir James Galway on Wednesday, March 23. Resident Conductor Francisco Noya conducts Link Up Education Concerts that serve over 13,000 elementary school children annually, as well as Summer Pops Concerts in parks across the state. With adult tickets starting at $15 for most concerts, and even better deals for children and students, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra offers affordable cultural entertainment for all.
Now in its 28th year, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School serves approximately 1,500 children, youth and adults every week with lessons, classes and ensembles, and an additional 25,000 students annually through community partnerships, residencies, education concerts and in-school performances. Five youth orchestras, two wind ensembles, eleven jazz ensembles and many chamber music ensembles, in addition to weekly private lessons for many instruments, provides a musical education customized for each student. Graduates of the Philharmonic's Music School and Youth Ensembles have gone on to succeed in many endeavors. Alumni include principal players in the nation's finest orchestras, skilled music educators, esteemed composers and conductors, corporate CEOs, doctors, lawyers, mathematicians, and academicians, and a former Miss Universe. As one of the largest community music schools in the nation, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School offers an extensive faculty and one of the finest music education facilities in the Northeast - the Carter Center for Music Education and Performance in East Providence - in addition to a branch in East Greenwich and partner locations throughout the State. A Westerly branch is slated to open in 2016.
More information is available at riphil.org.