In a small but tangible sign of the impact of its podium vacancy on its national profile, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will be reducing its number of concerts next season at Carnegie Hall.
For at least the last two decades, the orchestra has generally performed three concerts each season at the prestigious New York venue. Next season, the BSO will perform only twice: a pair of programs led by conductor emeritus Bernard Haitink.
The spate of health-related cancellations that unsettled the final years of James Levine’s local tenure as music director had also impacted the BSO’s New York presence, as Levine withdrew from numerous Carnegie dates with the orchestra. Even after his resignation in 2011, the cancellations continued, with Kurt Masur withdrawing from his scheduled Carnegie Hall performance of Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis’’ last year. “It was clear we were scrambling,” said BSO managing director Mark Volpe by phone on Wednesday.
He added that the decision to cut back at Carnegie was also prompted in part by the thorny logistics of preparing three contiguous New York programs without one individual conductor to rehearse and perform them first in Boston, usually over a period of multiple subscription weeks. The ultimate decision to cut back was made in discussion with Carnegie Hall’s artistic director Clive Gillinson.
“He and I were on the same page,” Volpe said. “And when we have a music director, we’ll revisit our ongoing Carnegie presence.” Volpe declined to discuss the timetable for concluding the ongoing conductor search.
As for the two newly announced New York programs (Feb. 11-12, 2014), the first will feature Brahms’s Symphony
No. 4 alongside Schumann’s
Piano Concerto, with soloist Murray Perahia. The second will be an all-Ravel program including the composer’s complete ballet score “Daphnis et Chloé.”
The orchestra’s Carnegie Hall performances this season will take place April 3-5.