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L.A. Opera taps Master Chorale's Grant Gershon

May 22, 2007|Chris Pasles | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Master Chorale music director Grant Gershon has been appointed to the new position of associate conductor and chorus master of Los Angeles Opera, the company announced Monday. His term will begin in the fall and extend through the 2008-09 season.

Gershon, 46, also has extended his contract with the Master Chorale through 2010-11.

"This is very exciting news for Los Angeles Opera," general director Placido Domingo said. "It's wonderful that the staff is growing, especially with someone of the caliber of Grant. I have long admired his work with the Master Chorale."

"I grew up in Los Angeles and spent most of my artistic life here," Gershon said. "Now to be working with two of the really great arts organizations in L.A. that are pointing the way forward here, around the country and around the world is very gratifying. This year I've been reconnecting to my opera roots, so the timing of all this has been quite remarkable and in sync with my own artistic goals and needs."

L.A. Opera music director James Conlon said: "The beauty of this appointment is that we've got one of the best in the business, a star in his own right in Los Angeles who will bring all his extraordinary talents to us. I am thrilled."

In his role as chorus master, Gershon will replace William Vendice, who is stepping down at the end of the current season. Gershon's duties will include building and shaping the chorus and collaborating with Conlon on podium duties.

"I'm guaranteed a minimum of eight performances over the course of the two seasons, and then we're looking carefully at what happens beyond that," he said. "I'm not obligated to cover rehearsals. Nonetheless, I basically have right of first refusal if a quick opening occurs."

A native of Norwalk, Gershon served concurrently as assistant conductor and principal pianist of L.A. Opera and assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1988 to 1994. He took over the Master Chorale in 2001, succeeding longtime music director Paul Salamunovich.

Since then, he's led world premieres by Steve Reich, Christopher Rouse and Esa-Pekka Salonen, among others.

Gershon also has guest conducted at the Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera and Swedish Royal Opera. In February, he conducted the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's opera "The Grapes of Wrath," in St. Paul, Minn.

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