Confirming speculation published last week, the Montreal Symphony on Tuesday named Los Angeles Opera music director Kent Nagano its new music director starting in 2006. For the next two seasons, the 52-year-old conductor will serve as music advisor to the orchestra, developing its programming and leading at least four concerts each season.
"It's very exciting news," Nagano said Tuesday by telephone from Montreal. "I've known the orchestra for some time, and the decision was based on a musical relationship established over the past couple of seasons. [But] the position won't start until 2006, so there is some time. Until then, Los Angeles will remain my musical home and certainly my home for operatic productions."
Nagano succeeds Charles Dutoit, who led the orchestra from 1977 until 2002, when he left abruptly after some musicians accused him of harassment and offensive behavior. Nagano became the heir apparent after conducting the orchestra in spectacularly received performances of Schubert's Ninth Symphony in January 2003. He will be the eighth music director of the ensemble, which was founded in 1934.
Nagano already is a busy conductor. In addition to his duties at L.A. Opera and guest conducting around the world, he is artistic director and chief conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and is slated to succeed Zubin Mehta as chief conductor of the Bavarian State Opera in 2006. He also will remain at the helm of the Berkeley Symphony, which gave him his start 25 years ago.
He became principal guest conductor of L.A. Opera in 2001 and was named its first music director two years later. He was music director of the Opera National de Lyon in France from 1988 to 1998 and music director of the Halle Orchestra in Manchester, England, from 1991 to 2002.
Born in Morro Bay, Nagano maintains homes in San Francisco and Paris.