CLEVELAND (AP) — Franz Welser-Most will lead the Cleveland Orchestra past its centennial under a new contract extension.
His contract as music director has been extended by four years to 2022, stretching several years beyond the centennial season in 2017-18, the organization said.
Since the celebrated Austrian-born conductor debuted as music director in 2002, he has helped with audience development, broadening the orchestra's community engagement and programming and increasing its international reputation and work.
He said he feels a special bond with the orchestra's sophisticated audience.
"To remain relevant in a changing world requires that we constantly change and grow," he said in a statement. "Leading up to and beyond our centennial, we will accelerate the pace of change, breaking more new ground with new audiences, new repertoire and new types of concert and opera presentations."
The contract extension isn't related to Welser-Most's recent decision to leave his position as music director with the Vienna State Opera, the Cleveland Orchestra's executive director, Gary Hanson, told The Plain Dealer (http://bit.ly/1vARozQ). But the result may be greater schedule flexibility.
"His focus on Cleveland will be greater than ever," Dennis LaBarre, president of the orchestra's governing body, the Musical Arts Association, told the newspaper. "I think we'll have a lot more of Franz in general."
Welser-Most also is a guest conductor for the Vienna Philharmonic.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com