After four decades as music director of the Cincinnati May Festival, James Conlon will relinquish that post in 2016 and become the festival’s music director laureate.
It’s the second resignation in less than a year for Conlon, who also is music director of the Los Angeles Opera. In August, he announced that he would step down as music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, after the 2015 season.
Despite these recent decisions, Conlon said he is not winding down his podium career. “It’s not farewell,” he said in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I weighed all of the reasons to keep going [as music director at the May Festival], and the reasons to stop, and the ones saying to stop were larger. It’s as simple as that.”
Along with his Ravinia appearances with the CSO this summer, Conlon will return to Orchestra Hall for concerts Dec. 17-19 featuring the CSO’s first performance of Vanhal’s Double Bass Concerto in D Major, the overture to Mozart’s opera Lucio Silla, and Dvořák’s The Wild Dove and The Golden Spinning Wheel.
The world’s oldest choral event, the May Festival was founded in 1873. Theodore Thomas, who went on to establish the CSO in 1891, was the festival’s first music director. The festival presents choral-music masterpieces over two weeks every May at Cincinnati’s Music Hall and at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in nearby Covington, Ky. Conlon, who became the May fest’s music director in 1979, held that post longer than any other music director in the festival’s 142-year history.