Lawrence Foster, a Los Angel es native who frequently conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Music Center Opera, will step down as director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, effective at the end of the 1996 summer season. Foster has held the positions since 1990.
Foster will go on to become music director of the Barcelona Symphony and National Orchestra of Catalunya in Spain at the start of the 1996-97 season.
"I just wish to pass the torch," Foster said. "I want to leave here before anybody suggests that maybe I've been here too long.
"Anyone who does this Aspen job really correctly, with a passion for the school and the festival, who feels involvement with the students and overall programming, well, it's such a backbreakingly heavy job. In my case, it's long enough. I don't want the slightest burnout. I'll be over 55. It's better they go on with some rejuvenation."
He said he "couldn't resist" the Barcelona offer. "The orchestra is far better than one would think because they have a fabulous music public. We have three 24-concert series in a 2,000-seat hall. They're all sold out. And there are incredibly imaginative programs, [contemporary] things like an all-[Hans Werner] Henze evening. I figured it was a good place to be for the future. L.A. should take a lesson."
Speaking of L.A., Foster will not be cutting his ties with this city. "I'm coming next year to the opera," he said. "But I can't tell what I'll be conducting. They have to announce that first. And I will conduct both in the Pavilion and the Bowl. And I plan to have a very close continuing relationship with Aspen. They've asked me to come back every year as a guest.
"There's one more factor [for my leaving Aspen]. I find myself politically more and more motivated to speak out, and I feel I can do that easier if I'm not the head of an organization that depends on all sorts of people for its budgets and contributions. I feel such a need to protest the savaging of the arts in this country.
"Basically, we're misperceiving things. As far as the NEA goes, it's not a question of each arts organization needing money. It's a question of all Americans needing a national symbol of a national commitment to the arts. The arts are a binding, unifying factor."
THREE SITES: The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra has announced its 1995-96 season, which will be split among three Southland venues and several neighborhood concert sites. Seven concerts will be given at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, six at the Wadsworth Theater in Brentwood and three at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine.
Highlights of the season will include the world premiere performances of "More Than a Day" by American composer Ned Rorem, with the orchestra led by principal conductor Christof Perick (Nov. 3-4); works by Bach and two of his sons (Feb. 9-11) conducted by Baroque specialist Hemluth Rilling, and a varied program with Jeffrey Kahane serving both as conductor and pianist (April 19-20).
An additional non-subscription concert, "Baroque Meets Jazz," also will take place on Dec. 1 at the Wadsworth and Dec. 3 at the Alex.
For information, call (213) 622-7001.
ANOTHER OPENING: Just as the San Francisco Opera has had to vacate the War Memorial Opera House during its seismic renovation (see Music and Dance News, July 23), the San Francisco Ballet also will be doing some wandering in its 1996-97 season. This will be the first time in the company's 63-year history that it hasn't opened at the Opera House.
Instead, the show will go on at the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District, the Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena Gardens and at Zellerbach Hall on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley.
Highlights of the season, Nov. 28 through Dec. 3, 1996, include three world and four company premieres, including ballets by Mark Morris, David Bintley and company director Helgi Tomasson.
Information: (415) 865-2000.