Utah Symphony and Music Director Thierry Fischer Extend Partnership Through 2022-23 Season
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (October 12, 2020)— Utah Symphony | Utah Opera (USUO) announced today that Thierry Fischer will extend his contract as Utah Symphony Music Director through August 2023. In May 2019, Fischer had announced his plans to conclude his tenure at the end of the 2021-22 season. This extension adds one year to his role as Music Director, and will run concurrently with his Music Directorship of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP), which he took up in March of this year.
USUO leadership and board representatives cited Thierry’s commitment to supporting the arts in Utah, his love for the organization, its musicians and patrons, and his willingness to aid in the continuity of the organization and our mission.
“With so much uncertainty in the future, it is a natural gesture for me to help provide the orchestra and its board with much needed stability,” said music director Thierry Fischer. “It made perfect sense to extend my contract by another season, through 2023, to assist the organization through these challenging times and give them the time necessary to run the search for my successor. I will always be here for our Utah Symphony in good and in unprecedented times and look forward to embracing the challenges of the future as we create music for our community together.”
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s operations and planning has been vast. Over the past six months and throughout this 2020-21 season, planned artistic activity has had to be postponed and abruptly changed. In addition to USUO’s desire to reschedule artists and repertoire affected by cancelled or postponed programming, its music director search has been altered by these changes to the season planning.
“Thierry Fischer’s love for this community and commitment to this orchestra are inspiring. His willingness to stay with us for an extra season is hugely appreciated, and will provide direction as we recover from this pandemic,” shared Patricia A. Richards, who is Chair of the Music Director Search Committee, served as chair of the USUO board from 2005 through 2014 and was interim CEO from 2015 through 2016 and from 2019 through August 2020. She added, “I’m very appreciative of Thierry’s commitment to see the Utah Symphony through these challenging times.”
President and CEO Steven Brosvik expressed appreciation for Thierry’s extended tenure and ability to continue his positive influence on the community. “I am extremely grateful to Thierry for agreeing to remain with us into the 2022-23 season. Thierry’s artistic impact on performing arts in our state is apparent and I am looking forward to having more time to experience his amazing work collaborating with the fine musicians of this orchestra. I have enjoyed getting to know Thierry in our early work together and believe there is great music yet ahead for all of us.”
“Thierry Fischer’s guidance will be invaluable as we emerge from this pandemic and find innovative ways to continue to serve our community through music,” stated USUO board chair Tom Love, who has led the board since September 2019. “We have put plans into motion to fully participate in the economic recovery and emotional healing that our community desperately needs at this time, and having Thierry’s continued leadership is critical to our success.”
At the conclusion of his tenure in 2023, Fischer will have led the Utah Symphony as Music Director for fourteen years, during which time he has revitalized the orchestra and raised its national and international profile through creative programming, renewed excellence in performance, commissioning contemporary composers’ works, and ambitious tours and recording projects. In September 2023, he will assume the title of Music Director Emeritus, in which capacity he will continue his musical relationship with the orchestra through regular return engagements.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Utah Symphony suspended in-person performances from March through August 2020. USUO continues working closely with artists and government representatives and is regularly updating safety procedures and concert programming in response to current health conditions in our community. The Utah Symphony resumed live performances, with Fischer on the podium, in September 2020. Details regarding future performances during the 2020-21 season are being announced on a regular basis with updated information residing on utahsymphony.org.
About Thierry Fischer
Thierry Fischer has been Music Director of the Utah Symphony since 2009 and will finish his final term in Summer 2023, becoming Music Director Emeritus. He has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic since 2017 (contract extended to the end of 2020). In March 2020 he began a new position as Music Director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, the most esteemed orchestra in Latin America.
In recent seasons he has conducted the Boston, Cleveland, Atlanta and Cincinnati symphonies, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra (New York), BBC Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Firenze, Salzburg Mozarteumorchester, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; also, the Swedish and Munich Chamber Orchestras, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He is committed to expanding the orchestral repertoire and has performed and commissioned many world premieres.
He has led the Utah Symphony in annual single-composer cycles including Mahler, Ives and Nielsen; he has also released acclaimed performances of Mahler’s symphonies 1 and 8 on Reference Records, the latter with the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. The year 2019 saw the first release of a Saint-Saëns symphony cycle on Hyperion as part of an ongoing collaboration (also to excellent reviews). He has conducted the orchestra in Utah’s five national parks and amplified outreach links in Haiti alongside musicians in the Utah Symphony. In celebration of its 75th anniversary season in 2016, he brought the Utah Symphony to Carnegie Hall for the first time in 40 years and released a CD of newly commissioned works by Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman and Augusta Read Thomas.
For his inaugural concerts in São Paulo, Fischer conducted Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Chorus to launch their 2020 Beethoven season. Last season’s highlights also included three back-to-back Beethoven programs with the Brussels Philharmonic at Flagey in Brussels; at the Southbank Centre he conducted music by Tristan Murail with the London Sinfonietta and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Plans for Autumn 2020 (on top of concerts with his titled orchestras) include his return to the London Philharmonic for a streamed concert at the Royal Festival Hall, Bach and Stravinsky in Stavanger, Saint-Saëns with the Bournemouth Symphony, and Haydn and Prokofiev with the Orchestre du Pays de la Loire.
Whilst Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales 2006-2012 Maestro Fischer appeared every year at the BBC Proms, toured internationally, and recorded for Hyperion, Signum and Orfeo, winning the ICMA Award in 2012 for Frank Martin’s Der Sturm on Hyperion with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. In 2014 he released a Beethoven disc with the London Philharmonic on the Aparté label.
Maestro Fischer started out as Principal Flute in Hamburg and at the Zűrich Opera. His conducting career began in his 30s when he replaced an ailing colleague, subsequently directing his first few concerts with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe where he was Principal Flute under Claudio Abbado. He spent his apprentice years in Holland, and became Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Ulster Orchestra 2001-2006. He was Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic 2008-2011, making his Suntory Hall debut in Tokyo in May 2010, and is now Honorary Guest Conductor.