Jaime Laredo will be stepping down as music director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2020-21 season, the VSO announced today.
“After two decades of dynamic artistic leadership of the VSO, Jaime has decided that he will retire,” Benjamin Cadwallader, VSO executive director, said by email.
“Jaime’s legacy in Vermont is one of profound artistic achievement, not just in the caliber of the guest artists he’s brought to perform with the VSO over the years — Yo-Yo Ma, Leila Josefowicz, Anthony McGill, Lang Lang, Andre Watts, to name a few — but in the level of musical excellence he has built within the orchestra.”
It was a surprise for many when Laredo took over the reins of the VSO in 2000 after the resignation of his predecessor Kate Tamarkin. Laredo is one of the world’s foremost violinists, a world-traveling conductor who began his career at Vermont’s own Marlboro Music Festival. Although a Guilford resident, Laredo was seen more often at Carnegie Hall.
“Jaime is an artist of international renown, and his musical leadership has inspired the members of the VSO to perform together at a level typically only experienced with larger orchestras in major metropolitan areas,” Cadwallader said. “His impact on the VSO, and on Vermont’s classical music scene, will be felt for decades to come.”
Laredo’s final concert with the VSO will be in May 2021. On Saturday at Burlington’s Flynn Center, he will open the 2019-20 VSO season as violin soloist with his wife, cellist Sharon Robinson, in Chris Brubeck’s “Pas de Deux,” written for the couple. Then he will lead the VSO Made in Vermont Tour Sept. 26-Oct. 6, plus concerts at the Flynn and Rutland’s Paramount Theatre in January.
Cadwallader sees this change as an opportunity for the VSO, this country’s only state-sponsored orchestra.
“We are sad to see Jaime retire, but we view this transition as we view all challenges: with optimism,” Cadwallader said. “Just as our audiences are evolving, so too are the requirements for artistic leadership of a professional orchestra.”
Plans are already underway to hire our next VSO music director, a process that often takes well over a year. A search committee comprised of VSO musicians, board, staff, and community members has begun regular meetings and expects to formally announce the search this fall.
“We look forward to meeting candidates from all over the country and hearing their ideas for how to build on Jaime’s legacy and continue to creatively evolve Vermont’s only professional statewide orchestra,” Cadwallader said.