Carl Herko
Vice President, Media & Public Relations

April 10, 2008



(PORTLAND, Ore.) – Music Director Carlos Kalmar’s tenure as artistic leader of the Oregon Symphony will continue until at least the 2012-13 season as Kalmar and the orchestra have agreed to a four-year extension of his contract.

Kalmar, currently in his fifth season with the orchestra, was first appointed in May 2002 to a four-year term as Music Director, beginning with the 2003-04 season. In September 2005 he agreed to two-year contract extension, through the 2008-09 season. The new extension covers the four seasons from 2009-10 through 2012-13.

In his first five seasons at the helm of the 112-year-old Oregon Symphony – the oldest American orchestra west of the Mississippi – Kalmar has been credited with taking the quality of the orchestra’s performances to never-before-heard levels.

“Kalmar's … five seasons (have) offered grown-up music for grown-up ears,” David Stabler, classical music critic of The Oregonian, wrote in a Feb. 10, 2008, assessment of Kalmar’s tenure. “Pieces such as … last weekend's Chamber Symphony by John Adams didn't just open new vistas for listeners. Music like that – complex, exuberant, exact – also redefined the group. Five years ago, the orchestra was competent but dull. Today, it's alive and responsive, playing better than ever.”

Kalmar says he is proud of what the orchestra has accomplished in recent years and “thrilled” about the contract extension.

“Since I first came aboard as Music Director in the fall of 2003, the Oregon Symphony and I have traveled together artistically on what already feels like a long journey to me, just because of the dramatic artistic changes that have happened here in our first five years together,” he said.

“I’m absolutely certain that we can get to even better levels of quality, and I strongly believe that with the support of our wonderful community, the dream of having an orchestra in Portland that’s really ready for prime time is about to come true.

“That's why I wanted to extend my contract over an important period of time. I am dedicated – and I know our musicians are, too – to working together toward the goal of making every Oregon Symphony concert a must-see/must-hear event for Portland music lovers.”

Board Chair Walter Weyler and Oregon Symphony Association President Elaine Calder concur.

"The Oregon Symphony has begun the rejuvenation of its programming, management and financial health, based in large part on the effective partnership of Carlos Kalmar with our new president, Elaine Calder,” Weyler said. “The proof of their successful partnership is already demonstrated in increasing ticket sales and regularly larger audiences. This extension of Kalmar's contract ensures that his internationally acclaimed artistic leadership will remain in Portland to complete the rejuvenation process."

Calder added: “I’m delighted Carlos has renewed his commitment to the Oregon Symphony because he’s a superb musician and a stimulating partner. I look forward to the weeks when he’s in Portland, and when he’s conducting elsewhere in the world I try to keep him up to date on events and performances here and get his input into decisions.  We’re lucky to have an artist of his caliber as Music Director, and I look forward to many more years of great music-making.”

Kalmar, who lives in Portland and Vienna, was born in Uruguay to Austrian parents. In addition to his Oregon Symphony post, he is also Principal Conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. During his career, he has been Music Director of the Hamburg Symphony, Stuttgart Philharmonic, Vienna’s Tonkunstlerorchester, and the Anhaltisches Theater in Dessau, Germany.  

He is also in demand as a guest conductor across North America and internationally. Upcoming engagements include returns to the Saint Louis Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Residente Orchestre in the Netherlands, Czech Philharmonic and Royal Scottish National Orchestra and debut concerts with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. During the past three seasons, Kalmar’s guest conducting engagements in North America have included subscription concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, New World Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Phoenix Symphony and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.

In the spring of 2008 Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra are featured on two new Cedille Records releases – one of works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis and the other a collaboration with the world-renowned mezzo soprano Jennifer Larmore.

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