Jaap van Zweden named music director at NY Phil

After months of speculation Jaap van Zweden has been appointed as the next music director of New York Philharmonic. He replaces Alan Gilbert, who is stepping down after the 2016-17 season. He will serve 2017-18 as music director designate before taking on the full role in 2018-19, with 12 weeks conducting per year.

‘This is one of the happiest and most fulfilling days of my life,’ said Zweden. ‘As musicians, we strive to achieve the best for our audiences in sharing the music of so many gifted composers of the past and present as we look to the future…my heart is full, and my family and I look forward to being true New Yorkers.’

The announcement came just days after Esa-Pekka Salonen, a favourite for the job among critics and commentators, ruled himself out. Salonen said he wants to focus on his composition work (he is currently composer in residence at NY Phil), leaving Zweden and Manfred Honeck of Pittsburgh Symhpony Orchestra as the leading candidates. However, Zweden’s energetic approach, technical knowledge and critically acclaimed appearances conducing NY Phil in Mahler’s First Symphony and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony seem to have won the day for the Dutchman.

Zweden, currently music director at Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, joins NY Phil at an important time in its history. The design team for redeveloping David Geffen Hall has already been selected (Heatherwick Studio and Diamond Schmitt Architects), and NY Phil will need to raise serious sums to fund the project over the next few years.