Thierry Fischer, who as conductor and music director of the Utah Symphony is credited with revitalizing the state’s biggest classical music organization, will be leaving that job when his contract is up in August 2022, the symphony announced Thursday.
“I feel that the time will be ripe then for me to explore new musical horizons and for the orchestra to embrace a new vision that continues the extraordinary growth we have already achieved,” the 61-year-old Fischer said in a news release.
The Swiss-born Fischer will assume the title music director emeritus, and will return to conduct the symphony from time to time, the statement said.
When Fischer was hired in 2009, after an appearance as guest conductor in October 2007, he said he planned to be “a normal Salt Lake City citizen,” and that it was the warmth of the locals, including the symphony’s musicians, that attracted him to the job.
“When I come to Salt Lake, I want to feel like it’s home, sweet home,” he told reporters in 2009.
When the symphony announced its 2019-2020 season in February, Fischer said that after 10 years in Utah, those feelings had held.
“I feel I’m from here now,” Fischer told The Salt Lake Tribune. “I realized how much I love the state.”
In Thursday’s news release, Fischer said, “my journey with the Utah Symphony has been remarkably fulfilling, and I am incredibly proud of all that we have accomplished together.”
Fischer is credited with taking the Utah Symphony to Carnegie Hall for the group’s 75th anniversary, and on two tours across Utah’s national parks and other landmarks. He has championed new composers such as Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman and Augusta Reed Thomas, and led performance cycles of the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Mahler and other greats.
Paul Meecham, president and CEO of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, told The Salt Lake Tribune that Fischer “has taken the orchestra to a whole new level. He’s attracted wonderful new artists, both musicians in the orchestra and guest conductors and artists.”
Fischer appointed 41 new musicians to the orchestra over the last 10 years, Meecham said.
Details of the selection process to find Fischer’s successor will be hammered out in the coming months, Meecham said.
The end of Fischer’s contract coincides with the current labor contract under which the symphony’s musicians are working. Meecham said one should have no effect on the other.
In addition to his position in Utah, Fischer has been the principal guest conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra since March 2017. His past posts have included chief conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2011, principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2001 to 2006, and principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales from 2006 to 2012.
Fischer is the seventh person to conduct the Utah Symphony in its 80-year history.