Slovenian conductor Marko Letonja has had his tenure with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra extended for a further year, the TSO announced today, meaning he will remain at the helm for the orchestra’s 70th anniversary in 2018.

“Since taking up the role of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director in 2012, Maestro Letonja has been brilliant,” said Chair of the TSO Dr David Rich, “so we are delighted to have successfully negotiated the extension of his contract.”

“Marko has built on the already high standards of the TSO and taken them to an even higher level,” he said. “This was evident, for example, in the performance last Saturday night of excerpts from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, a very challenging work that was performed magnificently across the entire orchestra and had the audience on its feet and applauding wildly at the end of the concert.”

Rich wasn’t the only one impressed. “To call it a ‘huge success’ is accurate, yet grossly understated – it is a world-class marathon of continuous song and music from a collection of our generation’s finest performers,” wrote Stephanie Eslake in her five-star review for Limelight.

“Marko has also broadened the orchestra’s repertoire and helped us secure top-name guest artists such as the soloists we heard last Saturday, Nina Stemme and Stuart Skelton, who came to Tasmania directly from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This was a coup for our orchestra and for our state,” said Rich. “In addition to performance standards, Marko has helped the TSO reach new audiences and is passionate about the orchestra engaging with all sectors of the community.”

Letonja is also Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg in France and has worked with numerous European orchestras as well as many renowned opera houses, including the Vienna State Opera, Berlin State Opera, La Scala, Milan, and the Semper Oper, Dresden. “The TSO Board, management and musicians are delighted that Marko has extended his commitment to the TSO,” said Rich, “despite his burgeoning orchestral and operatic career in Europe.”

Letonja will lead the TSO on its tour of China in late December and early January this year and will be conducting a diverse string of concerts in the orchestra’s 2017 season, including Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and a concert performance of Bizet’s Carmen featuring Russian mezzo-soprano Elena Maximova in the title role.

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