James Levine, music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is to relinquish the role at the end of the current season. Dogged by ill health, he has had to cancel an increasing number of appearances with the orchestra. The search is now on for a successor, though the BSO are also considering a new role for Levine, who has led them since 2004.
‘The BSO has been incredibly fortunate to have had one of the greatest conductors of our time at its helm since 2004,’ said BSO managing director Mark Volpe. ‘That being said, given Maestro Levine’s health issues, this has been a challenging time for all of us in the Boston Symphony Orchestra family, especially our beloved orchestra and devoted audiences.’ To which Levine responded that ‘I make this decision knowing that I need to focus more of my attention on getting back to better health, so when I do return to the BSO podium I can continue the important work the orchestra and I have done together during the period of my music directorship. As the BSO and I define a new relationship that I hope will benefit all involved, I wish the orchestra the very best in the search for the next Boston Symphony music director. It has been an honor and a privilege to have served in that role these past seven years.’
Levine is also music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and, despite continuing back problems exacerbated by a viral infection, is expected to conduct the next performances (revivals of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre) in the house’s new Ring cycle starting from March 30.
Conductors standing in for Levine at the Boston Symphony over the coming weeks include Roberto Abbado, the BSO’s assistant conductor Marcelo Lehninger and Andris Nelsons.
Note: The first version of this story referred the 'next installments' of the Met Ring rather than next performances: the next installments, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, are scheduled for 2011-12 season.