Finnish Santtu-Matias Rouvali began his period as chief conductor of Gothenburg Symphony season 2017-2018. He is undoubtedly one of the most talented conductors in his generation and the collaboration has meant a new energy and a new artistic direction for the orchestra. He is a great authority in the work he performs with the Gothenburg Symphony and has a charisma that the audience immediately notice.
The process before Santtu-Matia’s entry as chief conductor was open and meant that the orchestra discussed and voted for its top candidate. The result was clear – the Gothenburg Symphony wanted Santtu-Matias Rouvali. But clearly there were also other inspiring conductors the orchestra would like to cooperate with. Two of them were Barbara Hannigan, a relatively young soprano and superstar in process of developing as a conductor, and the routine 78-year-old Christoph Eschenbach.
Barbara Hannigan was Artist in Residence at the Gothenburg Symphony 2015-2016. Her name came up after she had made a concert with the contemporary music ensemble Avanti in Finland. After that she would conduct the Gulbenkian orchestra and Sten Cranner, general manager and artistic director of Gothenburg Symphony, flew to Lisbon and saw her “sing-conduct” – she is singing and conducting at the same time. An amazing experience that the audience in the Gothenburg Concert Hall also has experienced a number of times.
Christoph Eschenbach has been a target conductor for several years – a conductor that Gothenburg Symphony wants to invite to the orchestra. He represents a different repertoire than Santtu-Matias Rouvalis. They complement each other. He has done all the major symphonic works, while the young Rouvalis repertoire is more limited (while it is constantly growing!).
Now the Gothenburg Symphony has reached the goal and got a “three-leaf clover” with three profound artists who complement each other: chief director Santtu-Matias Rouvali and the future first guest conductors Christoph Eschenbach and Barbara Hannigan, who will accede 2019-2020.
– It feels like Gothenburg Symphony face a very exciting artistic development. All stars are right for this to be a new era that resembles the giant leap we took in the 1980s with Neeme Järvi when the world opened up for us, says Sten Cranner, general manager and artistic director.