Kent Nagano has renewed his contract with l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal through 2020, putting to rest speculation that the music director would leave in 2016 at the end of his current term.
The American-born conductor took over the OSM in 2006, after four years of uncertainty and labour strife following the abrupt departure of Charles Dutoit. Nagano has led the orchestra on several Canadian and foreign tours and was on the podium when the OSM achieved its long-cherished goal of building a dedicated concert hall in 2011.
Nagano has emphasized Austro-German repertoire during his tenure, in a pronounced shift of focus from the Gallic orientation of the Dutoit years. He has also led several concert performances of complete operas, including Olivier Messiaen’s St. François d’Assise.
“He has contributed to raising the OSM’s profile while making a strong commitment to the community,” said Lucien Bouchard, the former Quebec premier who chairs the orchestra’s board.
The orchestra’s profile, however, remains significantly lower than during the glory years of the 1980s and 1990s, when it kept up an exhaustive schedule of recording and international tours. The OSM’s local standing took a drubbing in the Montreal media last spring, when it became known that the first concert with the Maison symphonique de Montréal’s newly installed Casavant-Frères organ next May will feature neither a Quebec organist nor any music by Quebec composers.
Nagano’s projected term of 14 years will make him the second-longest serving director since the orchestra’s founding in 1934. Dutoit led the OSM for 25 years.