The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra today announced the appointment of Andreas Delfs as its new music director, succeeding Ward Stare.
“We are proud to announce the appointment of Maestro Andreas Delfs as the RPO’s 13th music director in the organization’s 98-year history,” wrote Curt Long, president and CEO, in an email to RPO musicians prior to the 10 a.m. announcement on Facebook, livestreamed from the Kodak Hall Stage. He added that Delfs follows in the footsteps of a long line of distinguished music directors including Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Mark Elder, Christopher Seaman, and Stare.
Long noted that Delfs has been a guest conductor with the RPO for more than 25 years and has a strong affinity with Rochester, the orchestra and with you as musicians.”
The email quotes Delfs: “I have been in love with this remarkable orchestra for a long time. Every visit I have paid to my friends in this wonderful community has been a profound and rewarding musical experience. The prospect of leading this exceptional group of musicians into their next century is not only filling me with joy and gratitude, it is truly inspiring me to pull out all the stops at my creative and musical disposal. My goal has always been to position the orchestras entrusted to me soundly and solidly in their communities. I will work tirelessly with the outstanding musicians of the RPO to anchor their vibrant presence so deeply into the greater Rochester community that nobody will be able to imagine life without them.”
Born in Flensburg, Germany, in 1959, Delfs attended the Hamburg Conservatory, studying with famed conductor Christoph von Dohnányi. After moving to New York City, he won the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship and completed his Master of Music at Julliard. Delfs is a member of the faculty of the Boyer School of Music and Dance at Temple University in Philadelphia.
His bio at Temple notes that “Delfs has worked with some of the most renowned musical soloists such as Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, and Renée Fleming. He has led many of the world’s noted ensembles, including the London Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, New York City Opera, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony and the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.”
Delfs was music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for 12 seasons. During that time, the orchestra rose to national prominence. He also led the MSO’s tour of Cuba, the first American orchestra to tour there since 1962. In 2005, the MSO became the first American orchestra to distribute its own live recordings through online stores including iTunes.
Delfs conducts the RPO’s strings in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade in C Major” (“Serenade for Strings”) and Grieg’s “Holberg Suite.” Recorded last week, the performance is available for streaming until March 10. He offers a warm and informative introduction, identifying himself simply as “guest conductor.”
Stare has led the RPO since 2014. At 32, the Rochester native became the youngest music director in the orchestra’s history. Stare shared a Grammy Award as conductor of the RPO in their first recording, 2019’s “American Rapture,” featuring the world-premiere recordings of Grammy-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s “Harp Concerto” with Yolanda Kondonassis as soloist, and Patrick Harlin’s “Rapture.” Stare’s decision to step down as music director after this season was announced in May 2019.
Kent Gardner is Rochester Beacon opinion editor.