Dallas Symphony Orchestra Announces Jaap van Zweden as New Music Director

February 10, 2007 at 12:21 AM · Dallas Symphony Orchestra Announces Jaap van Zweden as New Music Director

DALLAS - The Dallas Symphony Orchestra today announced the appointment of Jaap (pronounced YAP) van Zweden (pronounced van ZVAY-den) as music director, beginning in September 2008.

Van Zweden will begin a four-year contract as full-time music director beginning with the 2008-2009 season. In his first year he will conduct 12 weeks, escalating to 15 weeks in years two, three and four. As music director designate next season (2007-2008), he will conduct two full weeks of the DSO's five-week Texas Instruments Classical Series Beethoven Festival, including Symphony No. 5 and Symphony No. 6 in October followed by Symphony No. 7 and Symphony No. 8 in November. Van Zweden returns in April 2008 to conduct the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the world-renowned Dallas Symphony Chorus in the Verdi Requiem. During that same season, he will oversee auditions to fill vacancies in the orchestra.

Jaap van Zweden's most recent appearance with the DSO was in February 2006, as part of the Texas Instruments Classical Series. Van Zweden won over the musicians, search committee and audience with his masterful interpretation of music by Brahms, Ravel and Wagenaar. Critics were also hugely impressed, with The Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell commenting, "Sell the farm, mortgage the children, cancel the cruise. Do what you have to do to get to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's concerts this weekend."

Of this appointment, Fred Bronstein, president and chief executive officer of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, said, "Jaap's enormous musical intensity and depth, and striking chemistry with the orchestra was immediate and palpable. We are thrilled to be the orchestra that will introduce this very special talent to American audiences."

Jaap van Zweden said, "Although limited, my experiences in the United States have been wonderful, both musically and personally. Coming here to now lead a great American orchestra begins an exciting new chapter in my life and career. I am energized by the challenge and honored by the appointment."

Although famous in his native Holland, in the United States van Zweden is a relatively unknown conductor, having conducted only once in this country prior to his 2006 DSO guest engagement. Emanuel Borok, concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and member of the music director search committee, commented, "This appointment is a fantastic choice for this orchestra. Mr. van Zweden has the ability to shape the sound of the DSO and push it to a new level of excellence. His brilliance onstage is energizing."

Blaine Nelson, chairman of the board of governors, stated, "As a member of the search committee and on behalf of the board, I am truly thrilled with the choice of Jaap van Zweden, who we believe will not only invigorate the orchestra but the entire community of Dallas." The search for the music director was far-reaching and was conducted without a set timeline. Finding the best person for the position was paramount with key focus placed on each candidate's artistic excellence, leadership ability, unique vision for the orchestra and, most importantly, chemistry with the orchestra musicians. The search committee was also challenged to find a candidate that had the strength to bring his or her distinctive stamp to the sound of the orchestra.

Roger Enrico, chairman of the symphony's music director search committee, explains, "We went to great lengths to ensure that this search was conducted without any preconceived ideas and that we looked at each candidate based on the needs of our orchestra and our vision for the future. After careful study of van Zweden, it was clear that he was absolutely the best choice for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra."

Born in Amsterdam in December of 1960, Jaap van Zweden began his musical career studying the violin. Van Zweden entered The Juilliard School at age 16 as a student of Dorothy DeLay and, at age 19, was invited to join the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as concertmaster. Van Zweden, who spent the next 16 years as concertmaster at the Concertgebouw, began conducting part-time in 1994 and performed his last concert as a violinist in 1997. In 1996, he was named chief conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until 2003. From 2000-2005, he also held the position of music director at the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague. Van Zweden has been a frequent guest conductor of many important orchestras in Europe, Asia and Australia, including the Royal Concertgebouw and Orchestre National de France; Munich, Rotterdam, Oslo, St. Petersburg, Tokyo and Hong Kong Philharmonics; England's London Philharmonic, Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra of Cologne and the Danish Radio Orchestra, among others. With the Residentie Orchestra he has recorded all nine Beethoven symphonies for the Philips label. In addition to van Zweden's music directorship with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, he will retain his current positions as music director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Kamer Filharmonie (2005-2013), and principal conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra of Belgium (2008-2011).

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a rich 107-year history of artistic excellence. Eminent music directors such as Antal Dorati, Paul Kletzki, Georg Solti, Eduardo Mata and Andrew Litton began laying the groundwork for important elements of today's DSO, including extensive touring and recording, special community and education concerts, and the building of the world-renowned Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. As the largest performing arts organization in the Southwest, financial stability is a key element of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's success. Since inception of its 10-year strategic plan, A Bold Plan for Greatness, in 2003, the DSO has demonstrated three consecutive years of balanced budgets, growth in ticket sales and a rise in donations to their highest level ever, including a more than 50% increase in an endowment that now exceeds $110 million.

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About Jaap van Zweden:

Conductor Jaap van Zweden becomes music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, starting with the 2008-2009 season. His other titled positions include music director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Kamer Filharmonie (2005-2013), and principal conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra of Belgium (2008-2011).

Through the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden will be introduced to American audiences. While well-known to European, Australian and Asian audiences, the only other American orchestra in addition to Dallas that he has guest conducted is the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (1996). Having joined the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as concertmaster at age 19, he spent the next 16 years being inspired and mentored by Solti, Haitink, Giulini, Harnoncourt and Bernstein. As a matter of fact, in 1990, it was Bernstein who asked him to take over a Mahler Symphony No. 1 rehearsal, while Bernstein listened from the hall. Bernstein's pronouncement was that he was a born conductor and should pursue it. With this encouragement, the Juilliard-trained violinist began studying conducting in the Netherlands and performed as violinist and conductor with several orchestras between 1994-1997.

In 1997, Jaap van Zweden made his decision to conduct full time, played his last concert as a violinist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra performing the Shostakovich 1st Violin Concerto and was named the chief conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra where he remained until 2003. In 2000, he added the music directorship of the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague to his credits, a post he held until 2005.

Since 2001, he has guested with, and been re-invited to, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National du Capital de Toulouse, Munich Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish Radio Orchestra, Bern (Switzerland) Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, Hong Kong Philharmonic and Tokyo Philharmonic, among others.

Apart from an extensive symphonic repertoire, opera also plays an important part in Jaap van Zweden's career. During recent seasons, he has conducted La Traviata and Fidelio with the Nationale Reisopera in Holland and Samuel Barber's Vanessa in a concert performance at the Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. In the 2006-2007 season he makes his debut with the Netherlands Opera conducting Madama Butterfly, and future projects with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic include concert performances of Lohengrin and Tristan and Isolde.

A prolific recording artist, Jaap van Zweden has recorded all of the Beethoven symphonies with the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague for Philips, and is in the process of recording for Octavia all of the Bruckner symphonies with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, of which numbers 4, 7 and 9 have been completed.

Born in 1960 in the Netherlands, Jaap van Zweden began his violin studies at the Amsterdam Conservatory before entering The Juilliard School in New York at age 16, as a student of Dorothy DeLay, and supported his way through school by winning various violin competitions. He was married in 1983, and he and his wife Aaltje have four children ages 22 to 12.

The van Zwedens are very committed to bringing awareness and acceptance to the cause of autism, and in the Netherlands have established the Papageno Foundation, devoted to bringing music therapy into the homes of autistic children.

Replies (1)

February 10, 2007 at 03:04 PM · It's a shame that, year ago, they couldn't keep Anshel Brushilow, former concertmaster with the Philadelphia Orch. under Ormandy, and a fine conductor. Then there was the Mata tragedy. It sounds as if they've got a bright future ahead with this fellow.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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