Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Salonen to cross the Pond

So Esa-Pekka Salonen is to be the Philharmonia Orchestra's new principal conductor and 'artistic advisor'! The Guardian broke this story the other day, but it seems that the secret had been so well-kept that a rumour began to go round that it was a hoax. A press release from the orchestra plopped into my in-box yesterday, though, so it's official and presumably true.

The appointment starts with the 08-09 season. It's good to see that London's orchestras are finding top-notch principal conductors with youth, health, high energy and big ideas on their side. The LPO has the stunning thirty-something Vladi Jurowski in place to take over next year from Kurt Masur who, though still occasionally capable of inspirational status, has been growing increasingly, well, elderly; it was time for the Philharmonia to bring in new blood too. Salonen, fresh from Los Angeles, is a fabulous catch for them and I doubt they could have done better.

Is it time to introduce a retirement age for conductors? Not that it can be easy for a distinguished maestro to watch a man half his age take over his job. Christoph von Dohnanyi, the Philharmonia's outgoing conductor, has been gracious enough to accept a title of 'honorary conductor for life' and made some kind remarks about Salonen. Good for him.

MEANWHILE - something completely different. The Guardian ran this piece on celebrity autobiographies yesterday. Guess what? My first novel has already sold more copies than Ashley Cole and David Blunkett's tomes put together. Not that that's such a lot, but nobody gave me 250,000 pounds for it.