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Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra gets new music director

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – For 17 seasons, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra has been under the musical direction of Carlos Miguel Prieto. That will change this summer when conductor Matthew Kraemer takes over the baton.

The orchestra’s board of trustees recently announced that Kramer will take over in July and will officially introduce himself to music lovers in mid-September.

Kraemer called the appointment an “opportunity of a lifetime”.

“I’m thrilled. I can’t wait to move. Summer can’t come soon enough,” he told The Associated Press. Describing the Louisiana Philharmonic as “part of the cultural fabric of New Orleans and Louisiana,” he said he was “grateful for the confidence of the LPO”.

The Louisiana Philharmonic is a musician-owned cooperative founded in 1991 after the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra collapsed under debt. It describes itself as the nation’s oldest full-time musician-led and co-operated orchestra.

dr Bernard Jaffe, chairman of the board, said the organization was “looking for a leader who could take our talented musicians to new artistic heights and plant deep roots in our great city, and that’s the person we found in Matthew.”

Kraemer, an Indiana native, was appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in 2015. He was also music director of the Butler County Symphony in Pennsylvania and artistic director of the Orchestra Indiana. He also works frequently with Broadway star Idina Menzel and has served as conductor on many of her engagements in the United States

“I’m a collaborative conductor,” Kraemer said of his style. “I’m comfortable with the way I work with musicians. I believe in being efficient and using rehearsal time strategically.” He said he believes in a lot of preparation ahead of time to create an environment where the musicians “feel like they can do their best.”

“He has outstanding musical intelligence and interpretive skills, considerable organizational leadership experience and all the qualities of a modern music director,” said Jaffe.

Kraemer noted that under Prieto’s leadership, the Louisiana Philharmonic has been very successful in promoting the orchestra – and leaving a lasting impact on it and the community.

“I look forward to continuing the great work that has been done and exploring new collaborations,” he said. “The possibilities are great as we work towards what the orchestra looks like in the 21st century.”

“Orchestras aren’t just classical music anymore,” he said. “It’s everything from rock to opera and beyond.” He said the Louisiana Philharmonic has heralded the city’s local talents like Tank and the Bangas, Big Freedia and the Lost Bayou Ramblers in recent years. “Although it’s an art form 400 years old, it fits very well with the present day,” he said. “It’s not uncommon to hear the ‘Star Wars’ theme alongside the more typical pieces by Mozart or Beethoven. ”

As director, Kraemer said he looks forward to “making a deeper impact on the youth in the community.”

“I really want to get their hands on instruments and show them that learning like this is really a lifetime reward,” he said. “Through music they learn determination, perseverance and how to work together to create something magical. It’s amazing what music can do. It teaches life lessons and shows them the value of working and investing in something.”

Kraemer said accepting the Louisiana Philharmonic’s offer to conduct it was an opportunity he could not refuse.

“The challenge, the creative possibilities, they’re all there with this orchestra,” he said. “And the city is absolutely fascinating for me. Me and my family welcome change and are really looking forward to learning about the history and culture of the city.”

Chevel Johnson Rodrigue, The Associated Press

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