Here's what's up: The Louisville Orchestra somewhat concluded its search for a new music director Monday by appointing Jorge Mester to the post. If that name sounds familiar to local longhairs, that's because Mester was the orchestra's director from 1967 to 1979. So the Orchestra's second music director is now its seventh.
But that does not mean the search is over. They're still looking for a new music director in L'ville.
That process started in 2004, when Uriel Segal left after the orchestra declined to renew his contract, saying it needed a conductor more involved in the Louisville community. Since then, the search has been on for a new music director, culminating with performances led by seven finalists for the job this past season. That apparently made today's announcement, "startling," according to Courier-Journal classical music writer Andrew Adler in a story posted on the paper's website tonight.
According to the Orchestra's press release, while the orchestra needs more time searching for Segal's replacement, the search committee felt a new artistic leader was needed now -- it has been two seasons. A dialog between Mester and the orchestra about the possibility of him conducting a benefit concert grew into a conversation about him taking the post on an open-ended contract. Mester is also music director of the Pasadena Symphony in California and the Naples Philharmonic in Florida. While with the orchestra, the press release says he will also serve as an ex-officio member of the search committee.
"So, he's an interim?" some may ask. That seems open to interpretation, but the orchestra says Mester will have full charge of the ensemble while the search goes on. And he is considered the orchestra's seventh music director, as well as its second.