Music director David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra have announced a one-year extension of Robertson’s contract, through the 2018-19 season. At the end of that season, his 14th, Robertson plans to conclude his tenure with the SLSO.
In a telephone interview Tuesday morning, Robertson said that he didn’t have a new assignment with another orchestra. “I think my sell-by date has come,” he said, “and I think it’s important not to overstay one’s welcome.”
He said that his agreement with the SLSO always called for more time than most North American music directors spend with their orchestras and said that he will be reconfiguring his time commitments. Long tenures have grown increasingly unusual in the orchestral world, he said. Robertson’s predecessor, Leonard Slatkin, served as SLSO music director for 17 years.
“When the time comes, it will be 14 years of intense and rewarding collaboration,” Robertson said. “I think the organization is in a great place, and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
Robertson is also music director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Sydney, Australia, and works widely as a guest conductor. He and his wife, pianist Orli Shaham, live in New York City with their 9-year-old twin sons, Nathan and Alex. Robertson also has two older sons, Peter and Johnny, from a previous marriage.
In a statement, orchestra president and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard noted Robertson’s “signature adventurous programming, deep artistic collaborations and award-winning recordings. His leadership of the SLSO in countless performances have been met with enthusiastic acclaim, at home and on tour. As an orchestra builder, Robertson is credited with hiring over 40 percent of the ensemble.”
In his statement, Robertson expressed his “profound gratitude and deep affection” for the musicians, staff, former board chair Virginia Weldon, the late Jack Taylor and his family, and the St. Louis community. “Our collaboration is a continual joy for me,” Robertson said of his work of the orchestra. “It is passionate, poetic, adventurous and always inspiring. The tireless staff have been miraculous and have enabled us to realize our unique musical vision. I look forward with tremendous enthusiasm to the music we will all create together in the ’17-’18 and ’18-’19 seasons.”
SLSO vice president Adam Crane said plans to honor Robertson will be announced in the coming weeks. “We will make the 2018-’19 season celebratory for David,” he said.
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