The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) has announced that François-Xavier Roth will become its Principal Guest Conductor from September 2017.
François-Xavier Roth has developed a very special relationship with the LSO ever since he first conducted the Orchestra in 2000, when he won the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition and, as a result became the LSO’s Assistant Conductor. He has worked with the LSO at every Barbican season since then and has been closely involved in the Orchestra’s Panufnik Composers Scheme, a leading programme for young and emerging composers, which has placed him at the heart of the LSO’s development of new music since the Scheme launched in 2006.
He has worked extensively with the music education and community programme LSO Discovery and in 2012 he conducted an orchestra of young people from East London, playing alongside members of the LSO, in Elgar’s Nimrod, performed as part of the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Alongside his work with the LSO, François-Xavier Roth is very much in demand internationally. He has held two significant orchestral positions in Germany: Principal Conductor of the SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg & Baden-Baden (2011–16), and is currently General Music Director of the City of Cologne. In 2003 he founded the innovative orchestra Les Siècles, whose unique approach to modern and period instrument performance has been seen at the BBC Proms, Royal Festival Hall and the Aldeburgh Music Festival. He also works with many other international orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin, Boston Symphony and Royal Concertgebouw.
In 2016 he began a four-part series with the LSO, 'After Romanticism', exploring the sea-change in music that took place at the turn of the 20th Century. The series continues on 30 March and 23 April at the Barbican Centre, with the second concert being live streamed on the LSO’s YouTube channel and on medici.tv. These concerts will be followed by a tour of Austria.
In 2018 he will lead the Orchestra’s concerts marking the centenary of the death of Claude Debussy. The three concert series will explore Debussy’s oeuvre in the context of the composers who influenced him, as well as looking at Debussy’s enormous influence on the music that came after him.
François-Xavier Roth becomes Principal Guest Conductor of the LSO from September 2017, replacing Daniel Harding, who is stepping down after ten years in the role. M. Roth joins the LSO’s family of conductors which, from the 2017/18 season comprises Sir Simon Rattle as Music Director; Gianandrea Noseda and François-Xavier Roth as Principal Guest Conductors; Michael Tilson Thomas as Conductor Laureate; André Previn as Conductor Emeritus; and Assistant Conductor Niklas Benjamin Hoffmann.
Kathryn McDowell, the LSO’s Managing Director said:
'I am delighted to see François-Xavier Roth appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the LSO. The appointment is testament to a real commitment to the LSO’s work from early in François-Xavier’s career, after winning the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in 2000. He has conducted so many LSO Discovery projects – including at the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics; he has conducted the Panufnik Composers Scheme for over ten years and he has enriched the LSO season with beautiful programmes. We look forward to building on this in seasons to come. I’d also like to thank Daniel Harding for his work as Principal Guest Conductor over the past ten years, and look forward to welcoming him back to the LSO in future seasons.'
François-Xavier Roth said:
'It is an immense honour and a deep joy for me to accept the LSO's invitation to become their Principal Guest Conductor from the start of next season. I have always had the greatest admiration for this Orchestra. It is one of the great orchestras of the world, and their incomparable energy for making music has been an extraordinary source of inspiration for me. I am looking forward to the many musical adventures that we will take on together and excited by the dialogue already begun with the musicians themselves and of course with Sir Simon Rattle, alongside whom it is a great privilege to work with this fabulous ensemble. Seventeen years after having been their Assistant Conductor as a result of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, and conducting each year since numerous concerts with them, it is a particular thrill to strike up this new phase with the marvellous LSO.'
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About François-Xavier Roth
François-Xavier Roth (born Paris, 1971) is one of today’s most charismatic and enterprising conductors. Since 2015, he has been General Music Director of the City of Cologne, leading both the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Opera. He will take up the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra at the start of the 2017/18 season. In 2003, he founded Les Siècles, an innovative orchestra performing contrasting and colourful programmes on modern and period instruments, often within the same concert.
With a reputation for inventive programming, his incisive approach and inspiring leadership are valued around the world. He is working with leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic and Staatskapelle, Royal Concertgebouw, Boston Symphony and Zurich Tonhalle.
With Les Siècles, he has given concerts in France, Italy, Germany, England and Japan. They gave centenary performances of The Rite of Spring, on original instruments, at the BBC Proms and the Alte Oper, Frankfurt and, subsequently, performances with the Pina Bausch and Dominique Brun dance companies. Their widely acclaimed recording of the work was awarded a German Record Critics’ Prize in 2016. The first CD of their Ravel series with Harmonia Mundi will be released in April 2017.
His second Cologne opera season features a Ravel double bill of L’enfant et les sortilèges / L’heure espagnole, a revival and tour of Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. With the Gürzenich Orchestra, he continues a focus on the composer Philippe Manoury, from whom the orchestra has commissioned a trilogy of works, and led a successful tour of Asia in February 2017.
As Principal Conductor (2011–16), he led the SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg & Baden-Baden in visits to London (BBC Proms), Hamburg and the Lucerne and Berlin Festivals. They performed and recorded a cycle of the symphonic poems of Richard Strauss, premiered works by Yann Robin, Georg-Friedrich Haas and Simon Steen-Anderson and collaborated with composers Wolfgang Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Helmut Lachenmann.
Engagement with new audiences and new music are an essential part of François-Xavier Roth’s work. He is conductor of the ground-breaking LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme and, with the Festival Berlioz and Les Siècles, he founded the Jeune Orchestre Européen Hector Berlioz, an orchestra- academy with its own collection of period instruments. Roth and Les Siècles devised Presto!, their own television series for France 2, attracting weekly audiences of over three million. The Gürzenich Orchestra’s Ohrenauf! youth programme recently received a Junge Ohren Produktion Award.
About the London Symphony Orchestra
The LSO was established in 1904 and has a unique ethos. As a musical collective, it is built on artistic ownership and partnership. With an inimitable signature sound, the LSO’s mission is to bring the greatest music to the greatest number of people. The LSO has been the only Resident Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in the City of London since it opened in 1982, giving 70 symphonic concerts there every year. Through LSO Discovery, it is a pioneer of music education, offering musical experiences to 60,000 people every year. With the formation of its own recording label LSO Live in 1999 the LSO pioneered a revolution in recording live orchestral music. The LSO strives to embrace new digital technologies – having successfully moved into digital film, Blu-Ray Audio, downloads and streaming – and it continues to innovate with platforms such as LSO Play, a web-based video player that allows people to observe the Orchestra from different angles. The LSO is also a highly successful creative enterprise, with 75% of all funding self-generated.