In his final year with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), the French conductor will also begin his new job as chief conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra.
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In doing so, he is extending his RSNO contract for a year, to the end of the 2011/12 season, and he will still perform in Scotland while beginning his new post at one of Europe’s most highly regarded broadcast orchestras.
Deneve, who joined the RSNO in 2005 as music director, has brought both elan and considerable personal warmth to the position, proving popular with audiences and critics alike for his ability to communicate and his performances.
The RSNO yesterday said that average audiences had grown by a third under Deneve’s leadership and subscription levels are now at their highest in more than 20 years.
In 2007, the RSNO made its first recording with Deneve – the initial instalment of a complete cycle of Roussel’s major orchestral works – which received an award, the Diapason d’Or of the year for Symphonic Music. Subsequent recordings in the series have also been successful.
The RSNO and Deneve have enjoyed four foreign tours: two full European tours, a Spanish tour and an invitation to the Festival Présences at the Maison de Radio France in Paris in 2006, which marked the first time the RSNO had performed in the country.
The orchestra has just returned from its most recent tour, which involved six concerts in seven days, visiting Baden-Baden, Luxembourg, Paris, Munich, Vienna and Belgrade.
Plans are afoot for a celebration of the works of Claude Debussy for Deneve’s final season as music director.
Yesterday the conductor said: “To become the chief conductor of such a prestigious German orchestra is an exciting new adventure. This is a major step in my musical life and a fantastic opportunity to explore new styles and different repertoire.
“But I’m also joyful to have a seventh and final year with my beloved RSNO.
“Over the past five years there have been so many memorable moments and I hope to share many more during the next two seasons. I have become very attached to Scotland and its people and the remaining years will only increase this feeling.”
Simon Woods, chief executive of the RSNO, said: “The work that the RSNO and Stephane has achieved together already stands as one of the most productive and artistically impressive chapters in the orchestra’s history. It is a mark of his deep affection for the audiences of Scotland that he has decided to extend his time with us in order to fulfil many of the exciting projects still to be achieved.”
Listen to discussion about Deneve’s departure on the culturecast tomorrow at www.heraldscotland.com
Frenchman’s audience rapport makes him a hard act to follow
Whatever the players in the RSNO might be thinking today, the departure in two years’ time of Stephane Deneve to the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra will be a huge blow to the Frenchman’s audiences, who have come to love him and his colourful, characterful and quirky introductions to his shows.
He has built up an extraordinary rapport with Scottish audiences, which is unprecedented and will be hard to follow.
The orchestra has to replace Deneve with somebody special. The Scottish music scene is now incredibly competitive, with the BBC SSO brimming with confidence in its house team of conductors – Donald Runnicles, Ilan Volkov and Andrew Manze, every one of them top drawer.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, too, is quietly preening itself as its new principal conductor, the stylish and competent young Robin Ticciati, beds in and rolls out top-drawer events.
They’re all upping their game, and the ante, so it’s all eyes on the RSNO as the hunt begins for a successor to Deneve with no obvious candidate waiting in the wings.