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Gerard Schwarz's future with RLPO in the spotlight

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Gerard Schwarz's future with RLPO in the spotlight April 19 2004

Unwelcome headlines greeted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra?s music director Gerard Schwarz after The Times reported that more than half of the orchestra?s members objected to extending his five-year contract beyond 2006.

According to the article, published on April 16, a meeting was held at which Schwarz's performance as music director was discussed by the musicians. One cause of complaint, said the article, is a policy of performing sometimes obscure works twice in the same week, often to less than full houses.

In response to the report, the orchestra issued a statement saying that: ?A mid-term review of the existing contract with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic was agreed with Gerard at the outset of his five-year tenure.?

?The Board of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has every confidence in his continued musical directorship and looks forward to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic continuing its successful relationship with Gerard Schwarz,? the statement added.

RLPO chief executive Michael Elliott said: 'In the past year, under the artistic leadership of the music director, subscriptions have increased by over 40 per cent; group sales have increased by 57 per cent... new programmes such the Amadeus and Baroque series all made attendance and income targets, and three new audience campaigns have attracted over 3000 brand new attenders, of which 30 per cent have purchased flexible series subscriptions in the 03/04 season.'

A spokesperson for the orchestra confirmed to Gramophone that a meeting had taken place to discuss Schwarz's performance, at which an informal vote was made, but said that 'the tone of the discussion was far more wide-ranging and complex than has been reported'.

Regarding the criticisms of repeat performances, the spokesperson said there will be no repeats of programmes in the 2004/05 season. 'We listen to what our audiences are saying, and respond.'

Meanwhile, on Saturday evening, it was business as usual when Schwarz conducted the orchestra for the Liverpool Young Musician of the Year competition, which was won by 20-year-old trumpet player Thomas Osbourne.

Martin Cullingford, Gramophone News and Online Editor


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