Gerard Schwarz, second music director in the 16-year history of Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, will step down at the end of the 1985-86 season, the orchestra management announced Thursday.
A desire to devote more time to guest conducting, particularly in Europe, was the reason Schwarz cited for leaving his LACO post. A search for his successor is scheduled to begin soon and negotiations are under way, the management said, to engage Schwarz as guest conductor in subsequent seasons.
In the coming season, Schwarz will lead only five of the 14 subscription-week programs (he has previously led up to 12 weeks).
"I have a strong conviction that a music director should conduct at least two-thirds of the concerts in any given season," Schwarz told The Times on Thursday. He said that as music director of the Seattle Symphony, he conducts 10 of the 15 subscription weeks of that ensemble and that he leads the same proportion of concerts with the Y Chamber Orchestra, the New York City ensemble he founded eight years ago.
"Something had to give," Schwarz said, describing the traveling that marks his different directorships. In addition to what he calls his "winter" orchestras, Schwarz in the summertime leads the Waterloo Festival in New Jersey and the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York City. He also runs a new music series in New York during the winter season.
"I'm doing only a little bit more guest conducting in the United States, but in 1985-86 I will spend six weeks in Europe.
"I have grown to love this place (Los Angeles) and this orchestra. And I feel like a tremendous amount has been accomplished in these seven years with the L.A. Chamber Orchestra," Schwarz said. "We have gone from a 12- to 14-concert season to a 45- to 50-concert season. The orchestra has a distinctive sound and its own personality.
"I have really mixed feelings in stepping down, since this is the first orchestra I have ever left. In the past, I've just added on to my work.
"There is much more to be done, and I believe the board of directors feels that way too.
"But, I think, it will take the next music director to take the orchestra to that next level. My dream of a Baroque opera series remains to be fulfilled. The orchestra needs more and expanded educational programs. It must make more recordings. And it must tour more, especially to the East Coast--not every year, of course, but at least every other year.
"These are important artistic dreams. Now, there needs to be a new person fighting for the artistic things I have fought for."