Riccardo Chailly named Music Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra

Martin Cullingford Thu 13th August 2015

Leipzig Gewandhaus and La Scala conductor follows in the footsteps of his mentor and friend, Claudio Abbado

Riccardo Chailly named Music Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (photo: Decca/Mat Hennek)

Riccardo Chailly named Music Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (photo: Decca/Mat Hennek)

Riccardo Chailly has been named as the new Music Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, beginning his five year appointment at the start of the 2016 Summer Festival. 

He succeeds Claudio Abbado, who had founded the ensemble in its modern version together with Executive and Artistic Director Michael Haefliger in 2003, and led it until his death in January 2014. Handpicked by Abbado, the ensemble gathered each summer to perform at the Lucerne Festival. Their recording of Bruckner’s Symphony No 9, made just five months before Abbado’s death and released on DG, is a contender in the orchestral category of the 2015 Gramophone Classical Music Awards.  

In accepting the post, Chailly paid moving tribute to both Abbado’s influence on the ensemble and on him as a conductor. ‘To be responsible for this great artistic project initiated by Claudio Abbado is not only a privilege but also something that touches me emotionally,’ he said. ‘Ever since I was 18, when he appointed me to be his assistant at La Scala, Abbado was my model and then my point of reference and lifelong friend, with deep affection up to the very end.’

Haefliger said he was ‘truly delighted that with Riccardo Chailly we have succeeded in gaining a magnificent artist as the Music Director…As an outstanding artistic personality, he will also contribute strong new points of emphasis.’ Chailly’s first concert in the post will be on August 12, 2016, when he conducts Mahler’s Symphony No 8. 

With the appointment, Chailly further adds to his position as one of today’s leading maestros. Chief Conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra since 2005, he also became Principal Conductor of La Scala in Milan in January. From 1988-2004 he had served as Chief Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. 

Chailly was the recipient of last year’s Recording of the Year at the Gramophone Classical Music Awards, for his set of Brahms Symphonies with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, released on Decca.

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