Once again the conductor is leaving our country faster than expected or hoped for. Just as Lorenzo Viotti did with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Anya Behlmeier has decided to extend her contract with the Residentie Orchestra for just one year. Like FUTI, it started in September 2021 and will end in June 2025.
The news was shared this week via a press release from The Hague Orchestra and its director Sven Arne Tippel. The most important news in that press release wasn’t that Billmeier was leaving, but that John Markle was coming. From September 2025, Japanese-German Markel, already a regular guest, will become the new chief commander in The Hague. As if to hide the real news – that Behlmeier is leaving. Because I can’t imagine the orchestra being really happy because the chef they were so happy with has actually quit.
The reasons for this are anyone’s guess. It has been said before that the conductor may not have really returned at this time. Certainly not old school – which means: a bossy old man who lasts for about twenty years. But the orchestra still needs a president.
Tepl commented on this in 2019 devotion: “A large group like an orchestra needs an outside face, someone the audience can also recognize. It’s basically the artistic signature that the conductor brings, also during the process on the work floor. It’s about depth and continuity.”
One of the reasons Viotti gave for his decision was that he wanted to organize his life differently from the hectic life he lives now. Looking back on her decision, Billmeier is quoted in the press release as saying: “It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with the Residentie Orchestra, with all the trust and joy we shared in making the music.”
Attract good connectors
Good connectors are always on the lookout. Billmeier has made his debuts this season with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndebourne Opera, the Mahler Orchestra, and with the orchestras of Toulouse and Sydney. Other orchestras line up in front of her. With someone in high demand, planning a season with “depth and continuity on the field” becomes increasingly complex.
The chef carousel is a perpetual motion machine. Chefs who are going (Shani, Viotti, Bellmayr), chefs who are not yet there (McKayla), and chefs who are just coming (Gullberg Jensen and Ogrinchuk). In fact, only Karina Kanellakis at the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Duncan Ward at Philzuid – he’s just signed a new contract – are the only truly established chefs in the Netherlands at the moment.
In passing, the Residentie Orchestra created a new position, a position Emerging artist in residence. Young conductor Chloe Rock, previously an assistant with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, will be given exciting opportunities in The Hague for three seasons.
Now we wait to see how things will go here with a new minister or a new Minister of State for Culture – if there is one at all. In Residentie Orchestra they might actually be feeling the mood. After the orchestras in North, South and East Holland were forced to merge, West Holland may also have to do so due to new cuts. A merger of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the Residentie Orchestra could be the next step. He saves another chef.
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