Mehta Leaving New York Philharmonic in 2012

Not long ago, the Managing Director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Bill Mason, announced he would be stepping down at the end of the 2001/12 season. In a similar move, New York Philharmonic President and Executive Director, Zarin Mehta, announced (pdf) he will be leaving his position at the same time. All in all, this is a smart move by both organizations…

It’s no secret that other large budget organizations which lost their executive administrators on comparatively short notice have had difficulty sustaining institutional momentum while searching for a replacement. Most notably, the Philadelphia Orchestra endured an unusually long period of instability and it would be difficult to believe that both the New York Philharmonic and Lyric Opera of Chicago weren’t aware of this. Consequently, planning ahead provides ample opportunity to identify a successor and plan for the transition.

In fact, Gary W. Parr, Chairman of the New York Philharmonic, said essentially that in his press statement about Mehta’s announcement.

“We, as a Board, are so appreciative of his commitment to the institution over such a long period of time, and for the gracious act of offering a long period of transition, which will ensure seamless continuity.”

Of course, the big question for the NY Phil (and Lyric) is “who?”

Let the speculation commence!

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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