In a surprise announcement made Wednesday, German conductor Christof Perick will become the fourth music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at the beginning of the 1992-93 season.
Perick, 44, will replace Iona Brown, 50, the English musician who has led the musical fortunes of LACO since 1987. Brown's contract, which ends in June, 1992, was not renewed.
The appointment--unexpected in that no announcement had been made regarding a search for a new director--was made public at a press conference at the Japan America Theatre.
"No, this was not sudden," said Deborah Rutter, executive director of the orchestra. "The board of directors appointed a committee of six to address the music-director issue last May. The committee met many times, and on Tuesday recommended to the full board that Perick be appointed."
Perick, who holds the post of principal conductor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin but has no administrative duties with that company, was signed to a three-year contract. The main reason cited for his appointment was Brown's inability to spend more than six weeks with the orchestra.
In London, outgoing director Brown said that she was "deeply sad--deeply, deeply sad" about leaving the orchestra.
Then, asked if the appointment of Perick was a surprise to her, Brown paused for a few seconds before saying, "It was a great shock."
She also said that she had not been looking for another post--at present she still holds posts with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the Fields and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra--"but now I may begin to look for one."
At the press conference, David L. Gersh, president of the LACO board of directors, confirmed that Perick was the unanimous choice for music director and that the committee "did not consider anyone else."
He explained that the board had already done an extensive conductor search before appointing Brown in February, 1987.
He also commented that Perick will be able to spend nine weeks with LACO each season, after an initial tenure of eight weeks in 1992-93. Brown, according to Rutter, will have been in residence here for seven weeks in 1990-91, but otherwise has only been able to spend six weeks a season here.
Perick, a native of Hamburg, is a regular visitor to Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He first conducted the L.A. Chamber Orchestra in 1985, and has since returned for concerts with the ensemble five times. In addition, he has led the orchestra in the 1988 performances of Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte" with Los Angeles Music Center Opera. He returns here in February and March for Mozart concerts with LACO.
According to a spokesman for the orchestra, Perick's back problems--which have reportedly caused him to cancel a number of performances, including one opera engagement here, during the past year--were alleviated through surgery last summer.
Founded in 1969, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra was led by music director Neville Marriner through the 1977-78 season. Gerard Schwarz led the orchestra from 1978 to 1986. This season, the orchestra will give 42 concerts with a $3.5-million budget.
Brown leads the LACO in concert at Ambassador next week and Perick conducts it on Feb. 28 and March 9, also at Ambassador. Brown, who said she will flying in to L.A. Saturday, said: "I love this orchestra and, as far as I'm concerned, they are all my friends. I hope they feel the same way. I hope we can continue to make great music together for the remainder of my term."