Charles Dutoit, popular chief conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Chantal Juillet, longtime director of the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, have married and will make the 2010 season their final season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
“It was a very pleasing surprise to us,” said Marcia White, president and executive director of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
She said on Tuesday that everyone was happy for the couple and understood their desire for more time to enjoy their lives after decades of almost nonstop performing.
The 2010 summer season will be a “celebration season” for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival in honor of Dutoit’s and Juillet’s long association with SPAC, according to White.
Dutoit, 73, who has been chief conductor and music director at SPAC since 1990, and Juillet, 49, an accomplished violinist and director of the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival since 1991, were married in San Francisco last week, she said.
They told White they would be leaving their positions with SPAC at the end of the 2010 season.
“They made the determination to spend some time to enjoy their life,” White said.
However, Dutoit, a world famous conductor and music director, said he would consider coming back to SPAC as a guest conductor.
A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer called Juillet a “longtime partner” of Dutoit.
Their relationship goes back to when Dutoit was the music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in the mid-1980s and Juillet, who was born in Montreal, joined the symphony as a violinist. She rose to the position of co-concertmaster in Montreal in 1990, according to a Feb. 10 story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The story said this was Dutoit’s fourth marriage.
“My partnership with Saratoga Performing Arts Center has been one of the most rewarding of my career,” Dutoit said in a written statement released by SPAC.
“This was a difficult decision to make but the right one at this time. In the past year, I’ve taken on new positions that require me to spend more time in Europe,” the conductor said in the statement.
“However, Saratoga will always have a special place in my heart,” he said.
Dutoit and Juillet will help SPAC in the search for their replacements, White said.
Dutoit won’t be conducting as many of the performances this August during the Philadelphia Orchestra’s four-week residency at SPAC as he has in the past, White said. “He has other things scheduled,” she said.
The orchestra will feature more guest conductors this summer, White said. SPAC is expected to announce the full Philadelphia Orchestra schedule and list of conductors and special guests in two to three weeks.
Joel Reed, executive director of Saratoga Arts, formerly the Saratoga County Arts Council, said this summer season at SPAC will be a great season, celebrating Dutoit’s and Juillet’s contributions to the arts.
“The Saratoga community and orchestra fans will be celebrating with them,” Reed said.
However, he said it’s his personal feeling that the community will also be excited when SPAC brings “new talent” into the amphitheater.
“It will be a chance to enjoy the new conductors who will be integrated with the orchestra,” Reed said.
“People get attached to tradition but should also open their ears to new talent,” he said.
“He has quite a legacy,” White said about Dutoit. “To say that SPAC benefitted from his leadership is an understatement. He truly elevated our classical music program.”
The Philadelphia Orchestra named Dutoit its chief conductor in 2007. He had been chief conductor and music director for the orchestra during its annual summer residency at SPAC since 1990. He also held other positions in orchestras around the world.
Dutoit was born in Switzerland, according to a story in Playbill Arts magazine. He served as principal conductor of the Orchestre National de France from 1991 to 2001 and the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo from 1996 to 2003. He spent from 1977 to 2002 as music director of the Montreal Symphony, “bringing the orchestra worldwide renown and making a number of award-winning recordings,” according to the Playbill story.
Dutoit followed Eugene Ormandy (1966-83) and Dennis Russell Davies (1984-89) as the third music director and chief conductor for the Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC.
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