Thierry Fischer will take the podium at the Utah Symphony for longer than he once anticipated.
Fischer, the symphony’s principal conductor and music director since 2009, has extended his contract one more year, to August 2023.
Negotiations began earlier this year between the conductor and Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s then-interim president, Patricia Richards, said USUO’s current president Steven Brosvik, who arrived at the job in August.
Part of the reason is, yes, the COVID-19 pandemic — which, Brosvik said, has delayed the Utah Symphony’s search for Fischer’s successor.
“There are conductors who are coming from Europe that we are not able to get into the country, based on travel restrictions, and that could delay the search process,” Brosvik said.
In a statement issued through the symphony, Fischer said, “with so much uncertainty in the future, it is a natural gesture for me to help provide the orchestra and its board with much needed stability. It made perfect sense to extend my contract by another season, through 2023, to assist the organization through these challenging times and give them the time necessary to run the search for my successor.”
Fischer and the symphony had announced in May 2019 that the maestro would leave Utah when his contract ran out in August 2022. He has lined up another job, as conductor and music director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.
Fischer started that job in March, though the coronavirus pandemic has kept him from performing in Brazil so far. He’s scheduled to lead the São Paulo group in November, Brosvik said. Fischer, who is now in quarantine before conducting in the United Kingdom, also will be back in Salt Lake City for performances with the Utah Symphony in November.
Brosvik said Fischer will continue to split his time between Salt Lake City and São Paulo. The maestro’s contract as principal guest conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic runs out at the end of the year, Brosvik added.
In searching for a new conductor, Brosvik said, “we’re going to be looking for a musician who will continue to bring themselves, musically and as a person, to this podium and to this orchestra — to continue to excite our musicians, to engage them musically, to continue developing the orchestra as Thierry has. … We also want to find a real partner for the institution and the community.”
Spotting such a musician isn’t easily quantified, Brosvik said, adding, “usually, you know it when you see it.”