Congratulations are apparently in order once again for the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Giancarlo Guerrero. The orchestra announced on Wednesday afternoon that it has extended Guerrero’s contract through the 2020 season. The contract will make Guerrero’s directorship the second longest in NSO history, after concert hall namesake Kenneth Schermerhorn, who served from 1983 until his death in 2005.
Guerrero, now 43, was the first guest conductor to lead the NSO after Schermerhorn’s death, and he made an almost immediate and magical connection with the orchestra. During the NSO’s long search for a new music director, no other guest conductor was able to generate as much energy and excitement on the podium. So it came as no surprise when Guerrero became the NSO’s new music director in 2009.
A former percussionist, Guerrero has consistently demonstrated an affinity for the rhythmic complexity of contemporary music. This skill has paid huge dividends for the orchestra. Over the past several years, Guerrero has recorded the works of such contemporary American composers as Michael Daugherty and Joseph Schwantner for the Franklin-based Naxos label. Both discs became Grammy winners. This season, Guerrero continues to lavish attention on such contemporary composers as Richard Danielpour, Stephen Paulus and Roberto Sierra. He’ll conclude the season with the music of Edgar Meyer.
Guerrero has also demonstrated that he can be a sensitive interpreter of the Central European repertoire, especially the music of Gustav Mahler. In fact, Guerrero is currently in the midst of a multi-year project to conduct all of Mahler’s symphonies and orchestral song cycles in Nashville. In September, he led the NSO in its first ever performance of Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”).
Given his success in Nashville, it comes as no surprise that Guerrero has become something of a hot commodity in the classical music world. In 2011 he became the principal guest conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra’s annual Miami residency, and it seemed likely that his name would soon appear on the short list to become music director of other major ensembles. His new contract guarantees he’ll spend his formative, creative middle years in Nashville.
The NSO’s press release about the contract extension is available here.