DALLAS - The Dallas Symphony Orchestra today announced the appointment of Jaap (pronounced YAP) van Zweden (pronounced van ZVAY-den) as music director, beginning in September 2008.
Van Zweden will begin a four-year contract as full-time music director beginning with the 2008-2009 season. In his first year he will conduct 12 weeks, escalating to 15 weeks in years two, three and four. As music director designate next season (2007-2008), he will conduct two full weeks of the DSO's five-week Texas Instruments Classical Series Beethoven Festival, including Symphony No. 5 and Symphony No. 6 in October followed by Symphony No. 7 and Symphony No. 8 in November. Van Zweden returns in April 2008 to conduct the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the world-renowned Dallas Symphony Chorus in the Verdi Requiem. During that same season, he will oversee auditions to fill vacancies in the orchestra.
Jaap van Zweden's most recent appearance with the DSO was in February 2006, as part of the Texas Instruments Classical Series. Van Zweden won over the musicians, search committee and audience with his masterful interpretation of music by Brahms, Ravel and Wagenaar. Critics were also hugely impressed, with The Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell commenting, "Sell the farm, mortgage the children, cancel the cruise. Do what you have to do to get to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's concerts this weekend."
Of this appointment, Fred Bronstein, president and chief executive officer of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, said, "Jaap's enormous musical intensity and depth, and striking chemistry with the orchestra was immediate and palpable. We are thrilled to be the orchestra that will introduce this very special talent to American audiences."
Jaap van Zweden said, "Although limited, my experiences in the United States have been wonderful, both musically and personally. Coming here to now lead a great American orchestra begins an exciting new chapter in my life and career. I am energized by the challenge and honored by the appointment."
Although famous in his native Holland, in the United States van Zweden is a relatively unknown conductor, having conducted only once in this country prior to his 2006 DSO guest engagement. Emanuel Borok, concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and member of the music director search committee, commented, "This appointment is a fantastic choice for this orchestra. Mr. van Zweden has the ability to shape the sound of the DSO and push it to a new level of excellence. His brilliance onstage is energizing."
Blaine Nelson, chairman of the board of governors, stated, "As a member of the search committee and on behalf of the board, I am truly thrilled with the choice of Jaap van Zweden, who we believe will not only invigorate the orchestra but the entire community of Dallas." The search for the music director was far-reaching and was conducted without a set timeline. Finding the best person for the position was paramount with key focus placed on each candidate's artistic excellence, leadership ability, unique vision for the orchestra and, most importantly, chemistry with the orchestra musicians. The search committee was also challenged to find a candidate that had the strength to bring his or her distinctive stamp to the sound of the orchestra.
Roger Enrico, chairman of the symphony's music director search committee, explains, "We went to great lengths to ensure that this search was conducted without any preconceived ideas and that we looked at each candidate based on the needs of our orchestra and our vision for the future. After careful study of van Zweden, it was clear that he was absolutely the best choice for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra."
Born in Amsterdam in December of 1960, Jaap van Zweden began his musical career studying the violin. Van Zweden entered The Juilliard School at age 16 as a student of Dorothy DeLay and, at age 19, was invited to join the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as concertmaster. Van Zweden, who spent the next 16 years as concertmaster at the Concertgebouw, began conducting part-time in 1994 and performed his last concert as a violinist in 1997. In 1996, he was named chief conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until 2003. From 2000-2005, he also held the position of music director at the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague. Van Zweden has been a frequent guest conductor of many important orchestras in Europe, Asia and Australia, including the Royal Concertgebouw and Orchestre National de France; Munich, Rotterdam, Oslo, St. Petersburg, Tokyo and Hong Kong Philharmonics; England's London Philharmonic, Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra of Cologne and the Danish Radio Orchestra, among others. With the Residentie Orchestra he has recorded all nine Beethoven symphonies for the Philips label. In addition to van Zweden's music directorship with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, he will retain his current positions as music director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Kamer Filharmonie (2005-2013), and principal conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra of Belgium (2008-2011).
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a rich 107-year history of artistic excellence. Eminent music directors such as Antal Dorati, Paul Kletzki, Georg Solti, Eduardo Mata and Andrew Litton began laying the groundwork for important elements of today's DSO, including extensive touring and recording, special community and education concerts, and the building of the world-renowned Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. As the largest performing arts organization in the Southwest, financial stability is a key element of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's success. Since inception of its 10-year strategic plan, A Bold Plan for Greatness, in 2003, the DSO has demonstrated three consecutive years of balanced budgets, growth in ticket sales and a rise in donations to their highest level ever, including a more than 50% increase in an endowment that now exceeds $110 million.
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