Simon Rattle to quit London Symphony Orchestra and head home to family in Germany

Sir Simon Rattle is to leave the London Symphony Orchestra, but has agreed to extend his contract for one year before departing.

Britain’s preeminent conductor became director of the orchestra in 2017 and has been at the forefront of calls to construct a new concert hall in the capital to house the ensemble.

Sir Simon will be leaving the LSO and the UK for Germany, where his family are based, to take up a role with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich.

He has agreed an extension to his five-year contact with the orchestra based at London’s Barbican, and will remain in post until 2023.

Sir Simon said: "I am delighted that I will continue in my role as music director of the London Symphony Orchestra for another three years."

He added: "I love the London Symphony Orchestra. I remain committed to the LSO, and we have plans for major projects in the coming years. I am thrilled that we will be making music together far into the future."

Read more: Simon Rattle interview: ‘It is frustrating to be always behind Europe’

Rattle in 2015

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Sir Simon was previously the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 16 years, and his wife, the Czech-born singer Magdalena Kožená, and their three children are based in the city.

He explained that his reasons for accepting the role in Germany are "entirely personal, enabling me to better manage the balance of my work and be close enough to home to be present for my children in a meaningful way".

Sir Simon has been consistent in his criticism of the Barbican home of the LSO as a concert space, remarking that the auditorium is not big enough.

On his joining the orchestra, plans for a £288 million new concert hall in London were signed off, but Treasury backing was lost and the state-of-the-art venue sought after by Sir Simon is unlikely be built until at least 2028.

David Alberman, chairman of the LSO, and Kathryn McDowell, its managing director, said in a joint statement: "Sir Simon will be taking forward a number of significant projects with us over the coming years, working from our home base at the Barbican.

"Simon’s willingness to roll up his sleeves and champion the causes of classical music and music education in the UK continues to be hugely important both for us and also for future generations in the UK."

LSO management thanked Sir Simon for his "immense and continuing contribution".

Sir Simon, who made his name with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, was knighted in 1994 and is seen as one of the great contemporary conductors.

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