On October 2, the Cleveland Orchestra announced the extension of Franz Welser-Möst's contract as Music Director to 2022.
With this extension, Mr. Welser-Möst's tenure will reach at least 20 years, extending four years beyond the Orchestra's Centennial Season in 2017-18.
The announcement was made this morning to the Orchestra's musicians and staff by the President of the Board of Trustees, Dennis W. LaBarre, and Executive Director, Gary Hanson.
"I am delighted that Franz will remain our artistic leader through and beyond our Centennial," said Mr. LaBarre. "There is no more successful artistic partnership in the world today thanks to Franz's extraordinary vision and leadership. I am confident the future will bring even greater success. Franz's extended commitment provides artistic stability that is increasingly rare in our industry, and enables our shared goal for a Centennial that is a forward-looking foundation for the institution's second century."
"Franz is transforming The Cleveland Orchestra," said Mr. Hanson, "not only artistically with ever-greater elegance and flexibility, but also institutionally through his passion for making us relevant to today's audiences. For Franz, performing great concerts in local high schools is no less important than our celebrated international appearances. His long-term commitment to Cleveland is central to fulfilling our expanding education and community engagement mission."
Commenting on the announcement of his extension, Mr. Welser-Möst said, "I love the spirit of The Cleveland Orchestra and there is no greater joy for me than collaborating with these musicians. Their collective dedication to excellence at every performance is inspiring and humbling. We challenge each other to greater heights with each passing season. I am very excited that we will launch the Orchestra's second century together."
Mr. Welser-Möst also spoke about the unique qualities of the Cleveland community, "We have a highly sophisticated audience in Northeast Ohio. I feel a special bond with them, whose enthusiasm for their hometown orchestra is matched by their understanding of the work and support required to maintain such an ensemble. And beyond Ohio, the passionate support of our Miami community motivates even further my long-term commitment to the Orchestra and those we serve."
In recent seasons, Mr. Welser-Möst has led a comprehensive set of new initiatives for the Orchestra toward goals of greater community engagement while extending the Orchestra's international presence and reputation. Looking ahead to the Centennial and beyond, he commented: "To remain relevant in a changing world requires that we constantly change and grow. Leading up to and beyond our Centennial, we will accelerate the pace of change, breaking more new ground with new audiences, new repertoire, and new types of concert and opera presentations."
With his extended commitment through the 2021-22 season, Franz Welser-Möst will become the second longest tenured Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra. Mr. Welser-Möst was named the seventh Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra on June 7, 1999, and began his tenure in September 2002. In May 2003, his initial five-year contract was extended to 2012. In 2008, a six-year extension was announced to 2018.
Concurrently with his Cleveland appointment, Franz Welser-Möst has also served as General Music Director of the Zurich Opera up to 2010, and in the same role at the Vienna State Opera from 2010 to 2014. He is a regular guest conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic at home and on far-reaching international tours, as well as for opera productions at the Salzburg Festival.