Conducting titles at the world's top orchestras are often convoluted and mystifying. In the case of Sweden's Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, a newly announced leadership change is baffling even by classical standards.
For five years, Gustavo Dudamel has led the Gothenburg Symphony as its principal conductor. With his term set to expire this year, the orchestra said on Thursday that Dudamel is stepping down from that position and is assuming the role of "honorary conductor."
The orchestra said it has named Kent Nagano as principal guest conductor and artistic advisor. Nagano's role as artistic advisor begins immediately, said the orchestra. The former L.A. Opera music director is expected to spend six to seven weeks a season at the Gothenburg Symphony as principal guest conductor.
Nagano's tenure will be for three years, the orchestra said.
It remains unclear if Nagano is technically succeeding Dudamel at Gothenburg. Nagano's "guest conductor" title, plus his shorter contract, suggests that he will carry less responsibility than Dudamel.
Dudamel had served as principal conductor at Gothenburg since 2007. He is music director at the L.A. Philharmonic and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela.
Nagano serves as music director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. He is scheduled to step down from the top conducting position at the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich in August 2013, after what was reportedly a contentious period. He was the lead conductor of L.A. Opera from 2001 to 2006 and served as the company's first music director.
[Updated: A previous version of this post stated that Nagano had departed the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich. A spokeswoman for the company said that he is still music director through August 2013.]