Barenboim to Leave Chicago Symphony in '06

By F.N. D'Alessio

Chicago (AP) -- Conductor Daniel Barenboim will step down as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2005-2006 season.

He said he did not intend to renew his contract with the symphony after it expires in June 2006, according to a statement he released Thursday. Barenboim, 61, made his announcement first to the symphony musicians at a Thursday afternoon rehearsal, and later to the board of trustees.

Symphony spokeswomen Synneve Carlino and LaNell Essary said Barenboim gave a number of reasons for his decision, including that he wants to concentrate on performance, rather than administrative duties.

"After much soul-searching and reflection, I have come to realize that the position and responsibilities of a music director in America are changing in that they require many non-artisitic duties, and I feel I have neither the energy nor the time to fulfill them," Barenboim said in his statement.

Barenboim, who already had a long relationship with the CSO as a guest conductor and solo pianist, was named music director designate in 1989 and succeeded the late Sir Georg Solti as music director in 1991. In 1995, he appointed Pierre Boulez principal guest conductor, thus increasing the symphony's commitment to the performance of contemporary music.

"We are grateful for the remarkable work that he has accomplished as music director," William H. Strong, chairman of the orchestra's trustees, said in a statement.

Strong said a search committee would be formed to find a successor for Barenboim.

Besides to his Chicago post, Barenboim is general music director of the Berlin Opera, and maintains a busy schedule as a pianist.


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