Arts / Performing Arts

Dallas Symphony Lands an Italian Star

Long Wait for New Music Director Pays Off With Top Choice

BY // 06.04.18

It’s the announcement Dallas has been waiting for ever since Jaap van Zweden revealed two years ago he would leave his decade-long post at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for the New York Philharmonic in 2018.

His successor has been named: Fabio Luisi will serve as music director designate for the DSO’s 2019/2020 season, then assume the music director title for 2020/2021.

The Italian conductor — who currently splits his time between New York and Zurich with his photographer/violinist wife, Barbara — currently serves as general music director of the Zurich Opera, chief conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and music director designate of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

Fabio Luisi’s accolades are vast: He’s received Vienna Symphony’s Golden Bruckner Medal and Ring; Italy’s Premio Franco Abbiati critics’ award; and the Grifo d’Oro by the City of Genoa, where he was born.

Impressively, Luisi also has a Grammy, which he won in 2013 for his recordings of Richard Wagner’s Siegfried and Götterdämmerung with New York’s Metropolitan Orchestra.

“He is clearly one of the best music directors in the world and was our top choice,” says Sanjiv Yajnik, Dallas Symphony Association chairman. “I am honored that he has accepted our invitation to become the next artistic leader of our great organization.”

Luisi and the orchestra already have solid goals they hope to accomplish during his tenure. Expect a renewed focus on music by American composers; various international tours; and the launch of a 10-year program to commission 20 new works for the orchestra — with at least 10 by female composers.

Using $100,000 annually given by Diane and Hal Brierley, Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger, The Eugene McDermott Foundation, Shirley and William S. McIntyre Foundation, and Margot and Ross Perot, the symphony also plans to establish the Maestro Society to support Luisi’s touring and recording.

“Maestro Luisi’s appointment is evidence of the positive reputation and momentum of the orchestra,” says Kim Noltemy, president and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Association. “We look forward to sharing thought-provoking and exciting concerts with the citizens of Dallas and the surrounding areas.”

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