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The Philadelphia Orchestra Appoints Conducting Roster of Principal Guest Conductor, Conductor-in-Residence, and Assistant Conductor

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin Announced Details in a Celebratory Meeting of the Board of Directors
April 28, 2014

(Philadelphia, April 28, 2014)—The Philadelphia Orchestra today announced the appointment of a conducting roster with Stéphane Denève as principal guest conductor, Cristian Măcelaru as conductor-in-residence, and Lio Kuokman as assistant conductor. The appointments add a key element of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s artistic vision, assembling a conducting team of like-minded collaborators to bring continuity and excellence in artistic endeavors across seasons and venues. The appointments are effective with the start of the 2014-15 season.

“As I conclude my second season as music director we continue to grow our profile with innovative and imaginative activities in Philadelphia and around the world,” says Nézet-Séguin. “It is my vision that The Philadelphia Orchestra maintain a circle of collaborators who share a close musical bond with our musicians and contribute meaningfully to our creative aspirations. Stéphane Denève is a formidable artist with a lively and imaginative approach to making music, a passion for engaging audiences, and a deep connection with the Orchestra musicians. I am also proud to see a great career emerging for Cristian Măcelaru. He has a remarkable talent that has made a strong bond with both the musicians and audiences of The Philadelphia Orchestra. And I am delighted to welcome Lio Kuokman as a regular presence on the podium and in support of our many great programs throughout the entire year.”

As principal guest conductor, Stéphane Denève will spend multiple weeks each year with The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducting subscription, Family, and summer concerts.  He will be a key member of the creative planning process, bringing a singular ability to conceive of, and work across, a spectrum of different concert formats and a keen interest in a breadth of repertoire. His close rapport with the musicians of the Orchestra and desire for bringing audiences nearer to the music has already led to the Orchestra’s recent TuneIN concert, where he gave informal illustrations from the piano, illuminating the music in concert with the Orchestra, and designed a valuable collaboration with an important Philadelphia cultural institution, Philadanco. Since making his debut in 2007 Denève has been a familiar presence on the podium across many of the Orchestra’s venues. He has led more programs than any other guest conductor during that time period, in repertoire that has spanned more than 70 works, ranging from Classical through the contemporary including presentations with dance, film, and cirque performers. In addition to his current position as chief conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, he has maintained a very high profile leading major international and U.S. orchestras on a regular basis. His three-year appointment as principal guest conductor extends through the 2016-17 season.

 “During my seven-year history with the Orchestra I have treasured my close relationship with the musicians, the management, and the audiences of this precious organization,” says Denève. “I would like to thank all of them, and Yannick in particular, for welcoming me as a part of the family. I am thrilled at the prospect of exploring more repertoire together, of finding new ways to communicate and share the joy of music, and of becoming a part of the creative forces of this unique and forward-looking ensemble of talents. My wife and daughter love Philadelphia as much as I do, and together we are so excited about the start of the journey to come.”

Cristian Măcelaru begins a two-year appointment as conductor-in-residence after serving for two seasons as associate conductor. He began his conducting relationship with The Philadelphia Orchestra as assistant conductor in 2011. In his new role he will maintain a close association with the Orchestra, leading a subscription week each year, conducting summer performances in Philadelphia and other venues, and supporting Nézet-Séguin in important artistic projects in Philadelphia. Additionally he will lead select Family and community programs. During his tenure at The Philadelphia Orchestra Măcelaru has become a sought-after conductor at other major orchestras, and he recently was named the 2014 Solti Fellow by the Solti Foundation U.S.

“I am deeply appreciative of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s endorsement,” says Măcelaru. “ I have grown artistically in the past three years and it is primarily because the musicians received me with genuine warmth and an open heart, sharing both their knowledge and expertise. Working with Yannick and the musicians of this great orchestra makes me a better conductor each time I have this opportunity. It is exciting that this new title will allow me to continue my involvement and contribution to the Philadelphia community both on and off the podium.”

As newly appointed assistant conductor, Lio Kuokman will lead select Family and School Concerts, Neighborhood Concerts, Side-by-Side rehearsals, and other ancillary programs in a one-year appointment. Additionally he will regularly act as “cover conductor” for Nézet-Séguin and guest conductors throughout the season.

“It has been my dream to work with The Philadelphia Orchestra ever since I first heard this orchestra live in Hong Kong when I was a student,” says Lio. “I am honored to be the assistant conductor and very happy to be a part the Philadelphia Orchestra family. I look forward to the exciting 2014-15 season, especially the featured 40/40 Project.”

Stéphane Denève is chief conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and the former music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He has conducted The Philadelphia Orchestra on stage in Verizon Hall, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. He conducted the Orchestra in two subscription series in both the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.

Recent European engagements include appearances with the Royal Concertgebouw and Philharmonia orchestras; the Vienna, Bavarian Radio, Swedish Radio, and London symphonies; the Munich Philharmonic; the Orchestra Sinfonica dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome; and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. In North America Denève made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2012 with the Boston Symphony. He appears regularly with the Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Toronto symphonies; the Cleveland Orchestra; and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He makes his New York Philharmonic debut in February 2015. In the field of opera Denève has conducted productions at the Royal Opera House, the Glyndebourne Festival, La Scala, Netherlands Opera, La Monnaie in Brussels, the Opéra National de Paris, and the Saito Kinen Festival. He enjoys close relationships with many of the world’s leading artists, including Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Leif Ove Andsnes, Emanuel Ax, Lars Vogt, Nikolaï Lugansky, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, Joshua Bell, Leonidas Kavakos, Hilary Hahn, Gil Shaham, Natalie Dessay, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Nikolaj Znaider, Paul Lewis, and Piotr Anderszewski.

As a recording artist, Denève has won critical acclaim for his recordings of the works of Poulenc, Debussy, Roussel, Franck, and Connesson. He is a double winner of the Diapason d’Or de l’année, was shortlisted in 2012 for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year award, and won the prize for symphonic music at the 2013 International Classical Music Awards. A graduate of, and prizewinner at, the Paris Conservatory, Denève worked closely in his early career with Georg Solti, Georges Prêtre, and Seiji Ozawa. Denève is a champion of new music and has a special affinity for the music of his native France.

Cristian Măcelaru is the associate conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra. He began his tenure as assistant conductor in September 2011; in recognition of his artistic contributions to the Orchestra, his title was elevated to associate conductor just over one season later in November 2012. In addition to assisting Yannick Nézet-Séguin, he leads several subscription and non-subscription performances in the
2013-14 season.

Guest-conducting highlights of the season include a notable subscription debut with the National Symphony and Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist, a triumphant European debut stepping in last minute with the Gothenburg Symphony, concerts in his home country to lead the National Radio Orchestra of Romania in Mozart’s Requiem, and a recent return to Chicago where he led overwhelmingly successful subscription appearances with the Chicago Symphony, his third season in a row as a replacement for Pierre Boulez. Măcelaru returns on subscription to both Chicago and Philadelphia in the 2014-15 season and has subscription debuts with the Toronto, Baltimore, Houston, St. Louis, Seattle, Minnesota, Detroit, Milwaukee and Indianapolis symphony orchestras in North America; the U.K.’s Hallé Orchestra and Bournemouth Symphony; and the Hague's Residentie Orkest in the Netherlands.

An accomplished violinist from an early age, Măcelaru was the youngest concertmaster in the history of the Miami Symphony and made his Carnegie Hall debut with that orchestra at age 19. He also played in the first violin section of the Houston Symphony for two seasons. Formerly he held the position of resident conductor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. A proponent of music education, Măcelaru was the founder and artistic director of the Crisalis Music Project, a program in which young musicians perform in a variety of settings, side-by-side with established, renowned artists. (I took the sentence out about Houston Youth Symphony here.)

In 2012 Măcelaru received the Sir Georg Solti Emerging Conductor Award, a prestigious honor only awarded once before in the Foundation’s history, and he was recently named the 2014 Solti Fellow. He has participated in the conducting programs of the Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival, studying under David Zinman, Murry Sidlin, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Robert Spano, Oliver Knussen, and Stefan Asbury. Măcelaru’s main studies were with Larry Rachleff at Rice University, where he received master’s degrees in conducting and violin performance. He completed undergraduate studies in violin performance at the University of Miami. Măcelaru currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife and two children.

Praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a “startling conducting talent,” Lio Kuokman has worked extensively as conductor in both the symphonic and operatic genres.  Recent appearances have included the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center, the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Pan Asia Symphony, Hong Kong Virtuosi, Taipei Philharmonic, and the Macau Orchestra.

Throughout Asia and the U.S, his opera repertoire flourishes having conducted productions of  Don GiovanniLe nozze di FigaroCarmen, and for Musica Viva Hong Kong,  L’elisir d’amoreLa fille du giment, Lucia di LammermoorCavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci.   A proponent of contemporary works he has also premiered Yan Yu’s chamber opera, Heart of Coral, commissioned and produced by the Hong Kong Arts Festival.

His additional festival appearances have included performances at the Beijing International Music Festival, Cabrillo New Music Festival, Great Mountain Music Festival (Korea), Hong Kong Arts Festival, and Macau International Music Festival.  

As a keyboard artist of note, Lio has performed as soloist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Romania Bacau Philharmonic, China National Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.  He has performed with members of Les Arts Florissants at New York’s Lincoln Center and is a founding member and President of the Macau Chamber Music Association.

Born in Macau, he began his musical training at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts from which he graduated with first class honors in piano performance.  He continued his graduate studies receiving a Masters degree from the Juilliard School followed by diplomas in conducting from the Curtis Institute and the New England Conservatory of Music.  For his contributions to the development of arts and culture, Lio has received a Certificate of Commendation from the Hong Kong government and an Honorary Diploma from the government of Macau.

 About The Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world, renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for a legacy of innovation in music-making. The Orchestra is inspiring the future and transforming its rich tradition of achievement, sustaining the highest level of artistic quality, but also challenging—and exceeding—that level by creating powerful musical experiences for audiences at home and around the world.

Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin triumphantly opened his inaugural season as the eighth artistic leader of The Philadelphia Orchestra in the fall of 2012. His highly collaborative style, deeply-rooted musical curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm, paired with a fresh approach to orchestral programming, have been heralded by critics and audiences alike. The New York Times has called him “phenomenal,” adding that under his baton, “the ensemble … has never sounded better.” He is embraced by the musicians of the Orchestra, audiences, and the community itself. His concerts of diverse repertoire attract sold-out houses, and he has established a regular forum for connecting with concert-goers through Post-Concert Conversations.

Under Nézet-Séguin’s leadership the Orchestra returns to recording with a newly-released CD on the Deutsche Grammophon label of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Leopold Stokowski transcriptions. In his inaugural season the Orchestra has also returned to the radio airwaves, with weekly Sunday afternoon broadcasts on WRTI-FM.

Philadelphia is home and the Orchestra nurtures an important relationship not only with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center but also those who enjoy the Orchestra’s other area performances at the Mann Center, Penn’s Landing, and other venues. The Philadelphia Orchestra Association also continues to own the Academy of Music, a National Historic Landmark.

The Philadelphia Orchestra maintains a strong commitment to collaborations with cultural and community organizations on a regional and national level. Since Orchestra President and CEO Allison Vulgamore’s arrival in 2010 the Orchestra has reinvigorated and launched new partnerships with Opera Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Live Arts (FringeArts), Philadanco, the Curtis Institute of Music, Ridge Theater Company, and stage director James Alexander, among others.

Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the Orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the United States. Having been the first American orchestra to perform in China, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, today The Philadelphia Orchestra boasts a new partnership with the
National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. The ensemble annually performs at Carnegie Hall while also enjoying a three-week residency in Saratoga Springs, New York, and a strong partnership with the Bravo! Vail Festival.

The Philadelphia Orchestra continues its decades-long tradition of presenting learning and community engagement opportunities for listeners of all ages across the Delaware Valley. Concerts for families and schoolchildren; eZseatU, which allows full-time college students to attend an unlimited number of Orchestra concerts for a $25 annual membership fee; free Neighborhood Concerts; and PreConcert Conversations before every subscription concert are only a few examples of ways in which the Orchestra introduces orchestral music to a new generation of listeners.

Musician-led initiatives, including recent highly-successful PlayINs, shine a spotlight on the Orchestra’s musicians, as they spread out from the stage into the community, and serve a key role in growing young musician talent and a love of classical music in their own dedicated roles as teachers, coaches, and mentors.   

For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, please visit www.philorch.org.