John Axelrod has been appointed principal conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano “G.Verdi” starting from the 2011-12 season (the contract is initially for a minimum of three years). The Milanese orchestra, founded in 1993 by Vladimir Delman, was led by Riccardo Chailly from 1999 to 2005. Zhang Xian became music director in the 2009-10 season – a post she will continue to hold until 2015. Axelrod, former music director and chief conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, is also music director of France's l'Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire (ONPL), based in Nantes and Angers.
Born in Houston, Texas, Axelrod graduated from Harvard University and later studied with the legendary conducting pedagogue Ilya Musin at the St Petersburg Conservatory. He made his name with the groundbreaking Orchestra X and has since worked with many of the world's great orchestras; he has also made a number of recordings including music by Schreker, Krenek and Burger, Bernstein, Schoenberg and Weill (Nimbus), Dvorák's Ninth with the Würtemberg PO (Genuin), works by Wladislaw Szpilman with the Berlin RSO (Sony Classical) and Rolf Wallin's percussion concerto Das war schön! with Martin Grubinger and the Oslo Philharmonic (Ondine).
[This is an updated version of an earlier posting which now makes clear Zhang Xian's continuing role with the orchestra, and John Axelrod's supporting position.]