Boston Symphony Picks Chad Smith of L.A. Philharmonic as New Leader

Veteran artistic director Chad Smith, who has built the Los Angeles Philharmonic into one of America’s most innovative orchestras, will step down this fall to take over as president and CEO of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, both ensembles said. announced on Monday. .

Smith, 51, who has been the chief executive of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2019, said in an interview that the pandemic has forced him to rethink his priorities.

“I’ve thought really hard about my journey here, and I’m ready to change,” he said. “Change is healthy for everyone.”

Smith’s departure is a significant loss for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, still reeling from its February announcement that superstar maestro Gustavo Dudamel will step down in 2026 to become the next music director of the New York Philharmonic. are doing.

Smith said his move was not related to Dudamel’s, and said he had worked closely with Dudamel on promoting contemporary music and expanding the orchestra’s youth education program. He said he felt now was the right time, as the worst of the pandemic has passed and audiences are returning to concert halls.

“My decisions are mine and I know Gustavo’s decisions are his,” he said. “This will provide an opportunity for the LA organization to have a new artistic and executive team for a true future.”

Smith would take command of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a time of turmoil and division.

The orchestra has built a reputation for artistic and financial success in recent years, winning a Grammy Award and raising $484 million in endowments. However, in 2021, when longtime leader Marc Volpe stepped down, the organization entered a period of turmoil.

A long list of senior leaders and staff have retired, including Volpe’s successor Gail Samuel, the orchestra’s first female chairman and chief executive officer, in December, just a year and a half after taking office. suddenly resigned to (Samuel is also from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.)

The disruption has alarmed Boston Symphony Orchestra musicians, staff, officials and patrons. Orchestra leaders, including philanthropist and chairman Barbara W. Hostetter, have refused to speak publicly on the issue. In a statement on Monday, he praised Smith’s appointment, saying it “brings the start of a new era with many exciting opportunities.”

Smith said he wasn’t intimidated by the problems in Boston, adding that “the BSO goes through what every organization goes through at some point in time.” He said he will work to bring stability to the orchestra and help it rethink its identity and mission.

“I have a lot of questions to ask,” he said. “Who do we want to be? What is it that we absolutely need? Can we think differently about what leads to

Smith said he will seek to bring more racial, ethnic and gender diversity to the orchestra, which is less diverse than other orchestras. And he said he was eager to retain Andris Nelsons, who has been Boston’s music director since 2014 and whose contract expires in 2025, calling him an “extraordinary musician”.

For Smith, who spent 21 years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, previously serving as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Artistic Planning, and has built a reputation for innovative programming and forging ties with contemporary composers, Boston is the place to go. problems are well known. He took over as CEO in 2019 following the abrupt resignation of Simon Woods after less than two years in office.

Like the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra is known for its artistic and financial success. Both facilities have benefited from solid, profitable outdoor summer events at the Hollywood Bowl in California and Tanglewood in Massachusetts.

Smith’s loss has left a void in Los Angeles, and the orchestra is in the early stages of searching for Dudamel’s successor. In a statement, Philharmonic President Thomas L. ‘ said.

Dudamel thanked Smith in a statement, stating that “the only constant in life is change”, and vowed to spend the rest of his years “fully devoted to the LA Phil and its amazing audience.”

Mr. Smith’s move to Boston will be a homecoming of sorts. He studied European history at Tufts University, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory, and was a frequent attendee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra when Seiji Ozawa was music director. was carrying

He remembered a tribute concert for composer Aaron Copland. “It still gives me chills when I think about it,” Smith said. “I am often reminded of why I love the orchestral world and orchestral music.”

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