Home Music Simon Rattle to Depart the London Symphony for Munich

Simon Rattle to Depart the London Symphony for Munich


His return renewed hopes for a major new hall. The London Symphony performs mostly at the Barbican Center, a space that Mr. Rattle once euphemistically described as “serviceable.” Plans were made for the Center for Music, which would house the orchestra and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and would be run by the Barbican. It would be built on the site of the Museum of London, which is in the process of constructing a new home in West Smithfield.

Mr. Rattle has been a rallying force behind the Center for Music — designed by the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, with acoustics front of mind — but the project has faced difficulties, with unreliable funding pledges from the government and an uncertain timeline.

On the day of the Brexit vote, in 2016, Mr. Rattle was with the London Symphony musicians. Speaking with the Agence France-Press last year, he described their tearful reaction. “We actually couldn’t start the rehearsal before we had had a big discussion,” he said. “The older British musicians were the most emotional about what has happened to our country — that we are willing to cut ourselves off.”

Like many in the arts, Mr. Rattle has been opposed to Brexit. He has drawn attention to the European roots of the London Symphony, an orchestra first conducted by Hans Richter. And he expressed concern over the future of touring after Britain risked becoming a “self-built cultural jail.” While the London Symphony could previously travel to Europe en masse with little bureaucratic headache or delay, it now faces the prospect of long waits for customs, visas and more.

“Our touring life is completely different,” Mr. Rattle told the Agence France-Presse.

In Munich, Mr. Rattle won’t have to contend with those Brexit woes, but he will once again find himself involved in the building of a new concert hall, in the Werksviertel-Mitte area — a modern contrast to the neo-Classical Herkulessaal in the city center. The project, funded and led by the state of Bavaria, began while Mr. Jansons was still alive. Construction is expected to begin in 2022 and will likely last three or four years, Nikolaus Pont, the Bavarian Radio Symphony’s manager, said in an interview.

“The opening will fall into Simon Rattle’s reign as chief conductor,” Mr. Pont said, adding that Mr. Rattle would be involved in its development, particularly its educational programming.



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