Is it the beginning of the end for podium autocrats?
Actually, it's been decades since conductors ruled with an iron baton, but the Colorado Symphony Orchestra is taking an unusual approach to hiring its next maestro. Instead of hiring a full-time music director, the orchestra announced Monday that Andrew Litton will become its next "artistic adviser."
In this capacity, Litton, a New York City native, will program the orchestra's major concerts and conduct at least two programs during its regular season. His three-year contract starts Sept. 1.
Litton replaces Jeffrey Kahane, who announced his resignation four years ago. The Denver Post reports that Litton will take the artistic adviser title because his busy schedule prohibits him from the commitments of a formal music directorship.
Artistic advisers are typically chosen on an interim basis although cost-conscious orchestras have taken to experimenting with different leadership models involving more flexible commitments.
Litton has been the music director of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway since 2003 and served as music director of the Dallas Symphony from 1994 to 2006. The Denver appointment is unusual but not a total surprise: earlier this month, the orchestra inadvertently released information about Litton's hiring in an e-mail invitation.