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Berlin Philharmonic: May need a year to choose new conductor

BERLIN (AP) — The Berlin Philharmonic is giving itself up to a year to find a successor to chief conductor Simon Rattle after the orchestra deadlocked in a marathon vote to anoint a candidate.

More than 120 musicians spent around 12 hours Monday huddled at the closed-doors gathering in a Berlin church. They held several rounds of voting but couldn’t muster the majority needed to elect a replacement for Rattle, who leaves in 2018.

The orchestra isn’t saying how many candidates were considered or who was in the running for the job, one of the most coveted in classical music.

“Yesterday didn’t bring a result, but it was incredibly instructive and very, very constructive,” principal cellist Olaf Maninger told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “We have already come a long way.”

The orchestra will discuss at its next regular meeting when the 2015-16 season starts “what was missing to reach a result, and will establish whether the next election will be set in the fall, in winter or the spring,” he said. “But we have firmly resolved to hold the next election within the next year.”

The Berlin Philharmonic has had only three chief conductors in six decades — Herbert von Karajan from 1954-89, followed by Claudio Abbado and then Rattle, who took over in 2002.

Maninger, who participated in the election that Rattle won within a day, said the responsibility of making a long-term choice always generates “a certain nervousness.”

He pointed to the sheer diversity of conductors available, saying “all of them have incredible qualities and there are a great many one can imagine seeing as a real enrichment” for the Berlin job.

“(It’s) a very heterogeneous orchestra, 128 artistic personalities who want the best for the Berlin Philharmonic” but with varying personal priorities, he said.

“There is a great deal that has to be discussed, and of course that doesn’t make the election easy,” he added.

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