ASO announces new principal conductor

The wait is over. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra finally announces a Principal Conductor: 29-year-old wunderkind Nicholas Carter.

Carter will begin his new role in 2016 and will form an artistic leadership team with Jeffrey Tate (Principal Guest Conductor) and Pinchas Zukerman (Artist in Association). Carter will be the first Australian to lead a major Australian orchestra in almost 30 years. The leadership team has been appointed for a two-year term. Arvo Volmer was previously the ASO’s Chief Conductor, a position he held for 10 years until 2013 when he stepped down to become Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Advisor for the 2014 season. Carter tells The Adelaide Review that his new role is a “very significant appointment for me, for the orchestra and for Australian music in general”. Carter, who has been guest conducting for the ASO since 2010 and has been the Associate Guest Conductor since 2014, says he loves working with the “multi-faceted” ASO. “It’s such a wonderful orchestra because it’s so varied in its talents. It’s able to perform opera exceptionally well, ballet exceptionally well and symphonic repertoire,” he says. “I want to continue building that soundworld and continue to cultivate that soundworld and build the repertoire; bring a focus on contemporary music as much as possible; focus on Australian composers, some of whom we already know and perhaps some of whom we don’t know. Fortunately, I inherit the orchestra in such a healthy state. Arvo Volmer – in 10 years as its Chief Conductor – just did a stellar job in bringing the orchestra to national and international attention and I hope to continue that work.” Carter, who is based in Berlin, says he will stay in Germany, as he will continue his role as Deutsche Oper Berlin’s Kapellmeister. “I will conduct [the ASO] six or seven weeks a year; Jeffrey Tate as Principal Guest Conductor will be there for three weeks and Pinchas Zukerman will be there for two weeks as the Artist in Association. Because the artistic leadership team is more of a triumvirate in that sense, I’ll be flying back and forth from my home in Berlin to Adelaide.” Carter was in Adelaide for seven weeks early last year to conduct the ASO’s Carmina Burana as well as La Traviata for the State Opera of South Australia. This was the first time Carter spent a significant amount of time in Adelaide and, later in the year, he got a call from the ASO about the Principal Conductor role. “This, I think, was the first phone call where they called and said, ‘Would something like this be of interest to you?’ I said ‘nah’,” he jokes. “Of course I dropped the phone and did a little dance on the spot. It was pretty thrilling. And it’s been a long time coming for Australian music. To be the first Australian Principal Conductor since Stuart Challender [who was named Sydney Symphony’s Chief Conductor in 1987] is quite humbling.” Photography credit: Alice Healy

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