New York City Ballet Appoints Andrew Litton Sixth Music Director in NYCB’s 66-Year History
New York City Ballet announced today that Andrew Litton has been named the Company’s next Music Director. Litton, who currently serves as Music Director of both Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Denver’s Colorado Symphony Orchestra, will become NYCB’s Music Director Designate, effective immediately, and will begin his first season as the Company’s Music Director next September for the start of NYCB’s 2015-16 season.
In addition to his positions in Bergen and Colorado, Litton is also the Artistic Director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest. Formerly the Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (1994-2006), and Principal Conductor of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony (1988-1994), he regularly appears with leading British orchestras as well as with other orchestras throughout the world. Litton has also conducted many of the world’s leading opera companies including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden and Deutsche Oper Berlin, among others. He was also instrumental in founding the Bergen National Opera through his work with the Bergen Philharmonic. Norway’s King Harald V knighted Litton with the Norwegian Royal Order of Merit.
Andrew Litton is also a Grammy-winning recording artist with a discography of more than 120 recordings on many labels including Decca, Virgin Classics, Sony, Deutsche Grammophon, BIS and Hyperion. His recordings have received acclaim throughout the world, earning both France’s Diapason d’Or and the Classical Brits/BBC Critics Award, among numerous other honors.
In making the appointment, NYCB’s Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins said, “I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Andrew Litton to the New York City Ballet family. Beginning with the example of our co-founder George Balanchine, music has always been primary to everything we do. To have such an acclaimed conductor and musician as Andrew now at the helm of the New York City Ballet Orchestra is an extraordinary development for us, and I have no doubt that he will not only serve our musical heritage extremely well, but will take it to the next level.” As Litton comments:
“To return to New York, and especially to Lincoln Center where I attended Juilliard and have had so many formative experiences is a dream come true. I am deeply honored to join this incredible institution that I have known my entire life beginning with The Nutcracker performances that I saw every year while growing up in New York City. NYCB is also where I first heard some of the scores that have become an integral part of my repertory, such as the Ravel G major Piano Concerto, which Jerome Robbins so memorably used for his ballet In G Major. I fell in love with that score, and several other major works, watching the New York City Ballet.
“This appointment is an amazing opportunity to perform great music with a wonderful orchestra. The repertoire is huge and the orchestra performs more varied and challenging repertoire than most symphony orchestras. Just in the past few seasons alone there were fifteen Stravinsky ballets, twelve Tchaikovsky ballets, and three Bernstein ballets. These are three of my favorite composers, and they are only the tip of the iceberg. The opportunity to work with the greatest dancers and choreographers in the world, at the same time as leading an orchestra of such versatility, is a thrill.”
Also an accomplished pianist, Litton is recognized as an authority on the music of George Gershwin, and led the Covent Garden premiere of the composer’s Porgy and Bess. He is also one of the leading interpreters of the music of the late jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, and just recorded his first solo piano album, A Tribute to Oscar Peterson, which was released on the BIS label.
A native New Yorker, Litton grew up on New York’s Upper West Side where he graduated from the Fieldston School, and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School of Music in piano and conducting. While still a student at Juilliard, Litton had his first professional experiences with the ballet world, collaborating as a pianist with both Rudolph Nureyev and Natalia Makarova, including performing as on-stage piano soloist for Nureyev’s legendary Broadway performances in the 1970s.
During the winter of 2014, Litton returned to the ballet world to make his New York City Ballet debut conducting four performances of George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova’s staging of Coppélia, to the music of Léo Delibes. It was following these performances that Martins made the decision to offer Litton the position of Music Director for NYCB.
Litton will become New York City Ballet’s sixth Music Director, succeeding Faycal Karoui, who held the position from 2006 through 2012. Leon Barzin was NYCB’s first Music Director (1948-1958), followed by Robert Irving (1958-1989), Gordon Boelzner (1990-2001), and Andrea Quinn (2001-2006).
In addition to Litton’s appointment as Music Director, New York City Ballet has also announced that effective immediately, Andrews Sill, who has served as the Company’s Interim Music Director for the past two years, will become the Company’s Associate Music Director; and current NYCB conductors Clotilde Otranto and Daniel Capps will be named Resident Conductors. Paolo Paroni has also been named Principal Guest Conductor for the remainder of NYCB’s 2014-15 season. Paroni, who was born in Italy and has an extensive resume conducting in both concert halls and opera houses throughout Europe, made his debut with New York City Ballet conducting George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker in the winter of 2013. He has since conducted performances of Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the spring of 2014, and additional performances of The Nutcracker during the current 2014-15 season.
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