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Who Will Lead the MSO?

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra seeks its seventh maestro

Sep. 6, 2016
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The 2016-2017 season is the swan song for Edo de Waart as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) principal conductor and music director (he’ll stay on as conductor laureate, so we won’t lose him entirely), but the search is on for his replacement, about which the MSO has been rather reticent. One certain thing is that whoever’s ultimately chosen will surely have a big baton to wield. 

From its founding in 1959, the MSO has been on an upward artistic trajectory as its professionalism, repertoire and reputation have steadily grown. Harry John Brown established the orchestra’s firm foothold on our music scene, which Kenneth Schermerhorn’s long, popular tenure made permanent. Lukas Foss broadened the MSO’s repertoire considerably. Zdeněk Mácal and his successor, Andreas Delfs, sharpened the MSO’s skills still further—overseeing national and international engagements and recordings for the Koss Classics and Telarc labels. De Waart’s critically acclaimed tenure just took everything that has gone before up several more notches.

No doubt the powers-that-be at the MSO’s helm will cast a worldwide net, hoping to bring to our shores someone who’ll add that certain…something. Will it be youthful vigor, groundbreaking newness and freshness, or wisdom, established reputation and depth of experience that will win out? It’s a huge decision with much at stake; meanwhile, thankfully, we all have one more full season with De Waart to savor.


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