There is good news in Estonia. Native son Neeme Järvi, who left Estonia in 1980 to seek artistic freedom in the West, will become Chief Conductor (Music Director) of the Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester (Estonian National Symphony Orchestra) in Tallinn in September, 2010.
In doing so, he will pick up the reins of the orchestra he left in 1979 after building it into one of the finest in the former Soviet Union. His initial contract is for three years with an "evergreen" clause providing for automatic renewals annually upon the consent of both parties.
The announcement was made in Tallinn August 17 by Estonian Minister of Culture Laine Jänes, who called it "one of the most important decisions in recent Estonian cultural politics."
Järvi, 72, succeeds Nikolai Alexeev, ERSO Chief Conductor since 2001. He will be its ninth Chief Conductor and the first to become Chief Conductor a second time. He is also its longest-tenured Chief Conductor, having first served in that capacity from 1963-79.
After leaving Estonia, Järvi settled in the United States, where he became an American citizen and was Music Director of both the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1990-2005) and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (2005-2009). During this time, he was also Chief Conductor of the Scottish National Orchestra and the Gothenburg National Orchestra of Sweden.
One of the world’s most recorded conductors, with over 400 recordings on the Deutsche Gramophone. Chandos, BIS, Orfeo, EMI and BMG labels as well as the Detroit Symphony’s independent label, he has been Chief Conductor of the Residentie Orchestra of the Hague since 2005 and is a busy guest conductor worldwide.
Jarvi led ERSO most recently on July 2 at the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn, on the eve of Estonia’s National Song Celebration, an historic, every-fifth-year event founded in 1869. He also heads the Neeme Järvi Summer Academy, an annual master course for young conductors begun in 2000 in conjunction with the David Oistrakh Festival in Pärnu, Estonia, now held at Leigo Lakes near Otepää.
Järvi makes his home in New York City with his wife Liilia.