Dutch conductor Jaap van Zuyden has announced that he will leave the New York Philharmonic in 2024 after the expiration of his contract. In an interview with New York times He says the pandemic has made him rethink his relationship with the world-renowned orchestra and his family and that he now has other priorities in life.
“It wasn’t out of frustration or anger or because I’m in a tough situation. It’s completely freedom,” says the 60-year-old trail captain, who is no longer able to travel around the world due to the pandemic and therefore much time — which he and his family have spent in Holland. He also contracted Corona infection, after which he worked hard on his health and lost more than 30 kilograms.
“It changed me so much as a person,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. “And if you’re going through a really rough time, that also completely changes your outlook on things.” During the pandemic, van Zuyden composed himself, listening more to pop music and putting energy into his foundation for families with autistic children.
“It’s hard to build a relationship with the orchestra”
US travel restrictions for Europeans also made it difficult to maintain contact with the orchestra. For several months he relied on digital consulting and because many concerts could not be held, it was difficult for him to build a relationship with the musicians. “Anytime I could have been there, I would have been there,” he says. But it can’t be there.
“Building a relationship with an orchestra as conductor is an experience you go through virtually every day and every hour. And during this time, when I wasn’t with them, you sometimes feel a little helpless if you don’t have that depth through the music. It’s all taken from us.”
In the summer he announced his plan to leave the New York Philharmonic Orchestra after six years and made the decision at the end of last month. It is not often that the conductor of the world-famous company leaves after only six years. Van Sweden does not yet know what he will do after 2024. His contract with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will therefore expire.
He does not currently aspire to be the principal conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. For now, he’s focusing first on the reopening of Geffen Hall in Philharmonic, which has been renovated in recent years. “The opening of this room will probably be one of the highlights of my life,” he told the New York Times.
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