NEW YORK (AP) — Jaap van Zweden will leave the New York Philharmonic at the end of the 2023-24 season after six years as music director, the shortest tenure of anyone in a half-century.
Van Zweden cited the coronavirus pandemic as causing him to change priorities. He informed the orchestra at the end of a rehearsal Wednesday, two days before the orchestra resumes performances after an 18-month stoppage.
“So much has changed because of COVID, including thoughts about my own future, my life, and my family,” he wrote in a letter to the orchestra that was made public.
The 60-year-old conductor succeeded Alan Gilbert in September 2018. His six-season tenure will be the shortest since Pierre Boulez succeeded Leonard Bernstein and led the orchestra from 1971-77.
Van Zweden’s tenure was interrupted by a pandemic that led to the cancellation of the final 27 subscription concerts of the 2019-20 season plus six non-subscription concerts. All 103 subscription concerts of the 2020-21 season plus 16 non-subscription concerts were also canceled.
Regular performances resume Friday night at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall with van Zweden conducting the orchestra and pianist Daniil Trifonov in Anna Clyne’s “Within Her Arms,” Copland’s “Quiet City,” George Walker’s “Antifonys for Chamber Orchestra” and Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 4. The orchestra is away from its home, David Geffen, which us undergoing a renovation scheduled for completion in autumn 2022.
Van Zweden’s contract had been set to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season, and he extended it for one year. He plans to return as a guest conductor.
“The pandemic has changed all our worlds, so I recognize and respect the very personal decision Jaap has made about his future,” Philharmonic President Deborah Borda wrote in her letter to the orchestra. She said his additional season “provides us the time and space to run a search process that is thoughtful and elegant.”
Van Zweden was chief conductor of the Orkest van het Oosten (Orchestra of the East) from 1996-2000, the Residentie Orchestra from 2000-05 and the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest from 2005-12, all in the Netherlands; of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra in Belgium from 2008-11; and music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 2008-18. He has been music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra since 2012, a tenure currently scheduled to run until 2024.