Toronto Symphony Orchestra music director Peter Oundjian is taking on the leadership of the highly regarded Royal Scottish National Orchestra, starting with the 2012-13 season. Oundjian will continue to lead the Toronto Symphony at least until the expiration of his current contract at the end of the 2013-14 season.
It's much too early to tell if he will extend his Toronto contract beyond 2014.
Oundjian's first season in Scotland will include a short, six-week residency. This will increase gradually to eight weeks over the course of his initial, four-year commitment. There are also plans for recordings and touring already in the works.
The maestro replaces French conductor Stéphane Denève, who is leaving the music director's post at the end of the 2011-12 season.
“I am very happy indeed at the news that Peter Oundjian will succeed me as music director of this wonderful orchestra," said Denève in a press release issued by both orchestras this morning. "I have been fortunate to conduct the Toronto Symphony on many occasions and I have seen the great creativity, imagination and dedication that Peter has brought to them.”
The Scottish Orchestra's CEO, Simon Woods, was equally enthusiastic.
“I have known and admired Peter for over a decade, and I am in no doubt that he will bring very special qualities to the RSNO," Woods was quoted in the press release. "He is a musician of enormous integrity whose performances are richly informed by his many years as a chamber musician. His love of making music together with others is something that is apparent in everything he touches, and the results are always deeply musical, communicative and incredibly involving. There are great times ahead for the RSNO and its audiences.”
Oundjian made his début with the Scottish Orchestra in 2002. He has been music director of the Toronto Symphony since 2004 -- during which time he has made huge strides in improving the orchestra's sound and morale, has helped increase audiences and has led the organization's slow return to international touring. The Toronto Symphony has just returned from a six-stop tour of Florida, and will perform its second Carnegie Hall concert under Oundjian in March.
Oundjian, who was born in Toronto but was brought up in England, trained as a violinist at the Juilliard School in new York City. He spent 14 years with the world-renowned Tokyo String Quartet before focal dystonia forced him to stop playing the violin. He turned the misfortune into the start of a conducting career.
Besides his work in Toronto, Oundjian has been artistic director of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, principal guest conductor and artistic advisor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and principal conductor and artistic advisor of the Caramoor Festival. He has conducted major orchestras in Europe including the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and the Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio France, as well as visiting the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra.