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Music

DSO names Tugan Sokhiev as new Principal Conductor

Berlin's Deutsches Symphonie Orchester welcomes its new conductor, Tugan Sokhiev. But he has big shoes to fill: after a successful tenure, former conductor Ingo Metzmacher left the orchestra over funding disputes.

Portrait of Tugan Sokhiev

Tugan Sokhiev will continue to direct in France before his 2012 DSO contract begins

The DSO Berlin (Deutsches Symphonie Orchester) named 33-year-old, Russian-born Tugan Sokhiev as its new principal conductor on September 6. Sokhiev succeeds conductor Ingo Metzmacher in the position.

Sokhiev signed a four-year contract to begin in the 2012-2013 season with the DSO, an orchestra he has already conducted three times. Until his official start, he will carry the title of Designated Principal Conductor and will help decide who joins the orchestra and what projects it takes on.

"The relationship that has developed between me and the DSO Berlin in recent years is very positive - at its core are respect and the mutual aspiration to make the best possible music," said Sokhiev upon signing his contract with the ensemble.

Since the 2008-2009 season, Sokhiev has served as Principal Conductor of the Orchestre National du Capitole in Toulose, France. He also maintains partnerships with the Philharmonia Orchester London, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic.

Uncertainty ahead

Sokhiev conducts the DSO

Now 33 years old, Sokhiev made his DSO debut at just 25 years old in 2003

Previous conductor Metzmacher left the DSO this year in protest against inadequate funding for the orchestra. His tenure included a number of successful programs, including the Casual Concerts series, performed in casual clothes and jeans with concert explanations from the stage for audience members less well-versed in classical.

Sokhiev's own vision for the ensemble is not yet clear, said DSO spokesman Benjamin Dries, since Sokhiev hasn't yet presented concrete plans for his seasons starting in 2012.

But Sokhiev has said he won't be deterred by the orchestra's financial problems that once led organizers to propose fusing the DSO with another Berlin orchestra. Those plans have since been pulled from the table.

A tradition of renewal

The DSO has long stood for renewal. The orchestra was founded in 1946 following the end of the Second World War by a radio station in the American sector of Berlin. The DSO was a means of giving the country back one of its major cultural outlets: music.

Portrait of Ingo Metzmacher

Metzmacher chose not to renew his contract with the DSO this year in protest

Ingo Metzmacher's tenure from 2007-2010 took up a similar theme with the series "From the German Soul." In 2009, he told Deutsche Welle that he was especially interested in the relationship of German culture to music and how to convey that relationship to others. Critics and audiences in Berlin and beyond met his efforts with praise.

Sokhiev first made a name for himself at the DSO in 2003 as a 25-year-old as part of a radio series in which young musicians and conductors were given the chance to perform with major orchestras. Recognizing his talent, the DSO quickly booked the young conductor for a second concert. Now he'll have the chance to shape the orchestra more than ever, even if it means steering the ensemble through some financially tough times.

"I'm excitedly looking forward to all of the demands that accompany directing this great orchestra in one of Europe's most important centers of music," Sokhiev said.

Author: Greg Wiser (dpa)
Editor: Rick Fulker

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