The WA Symphony Orchestra this week announced Asher Fisch will take up the baton as principal conductor and artistic advisor from 2014.
Asher began his conducting career as Daniel Barenboim’s assistant during the 1990's and has built his career as a conductor of opera. The Israeli maestro has served as music director of the Israeli Opera and the Vienna Opera and is currently the principal guest conductor of the Seattle Opera.
I first saw him in 2005 conducting State Opera of South Australia's production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen and there is no doubt he is an excellent conductor in the pit. But he has very little experience in the concert hall. Does anyone else see this as a concern?
Asher has already made it clear he intends to focus on the 19th and early 20th century repertoire "especially the music of Wagner, which I think is essential in developing the symphonic style of playing of the late Romantic and early modern-expressionist eras."
He has made some perceptive comments about WASO, describing them as "a wonderful blend of British professionalism, American work ethic and German precision." He wants to help the orchestra develop its own unique style of playing, to 'loosen up, move around while playing, take more risks and avoid playing in what I call the ‘safety zone’."
Perhaps Asher sees this as his opportunity to broaden his repertoire. Or maybe WASO will be playing a lot of Wagner for three years!