On 22 May 2017, the president of Gran Canaria’s government Antonio Morales announced Karel Mark Chichon as the new Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria (OFGC). Karel will take over this position at the start of the 2017/18 season, and the initial contract spans three and a half years. His previous Chief Conductor positions have been at the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and Graz Symphony Orchestra Austria.
Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria originated in 1845 and in 1980 and over the years it has been directed by conductors such as Max Bragado-Darman, Antoni Wit, Adrian Leaper or Günther Herbig and Pedro Halffter.
Morales stated that Karel is the ideal person to take the lead of the OFGC, an orchestra described by Karel as “the cultural jewel of Spain which has a special energy and generosity in its performances among its strengths”. He has previously performed with the orchestra as a guest conductor on some occasions; most recently conducting La favorite by Donizetti.
Karel said “[the OFGC] is a fine orchestra with huge potential for further growth, and is in need of a leader”. After having led three orchestras, Karel can contribute a wealth of knowledge and experience to reach this higher potential, whilst integrating the orchestra into the community and achieving a cohesive ensemble. This aspect is something that he is very enthusiastic about.
Morales said that Karel’s artistic capabilities and his ability to manage teams were the largest factors for making the appointment. Karel’s decision to accept this offer instead of another orchestra in Germany was determined by the political support he has received. Without this support, he felt it impossible for a project of this magnitude to thrive. In his opinion, this is an added value for the orchestra.
Karel also explained that he does not favour themed seasons; he prefers that guest conductors can demonstrate their abilities without such limitations. This in turn will enrich the variety of repertoire the public will have access to. Karel will focus on a broad repertoire that goes from Baroque to Contemporary music.
Carlos Ruiz, cultural attaché, explained that during the search for a new leader it was Karel’s asserted description of the reality of the OFCG and his ideas to improve it which made the government realise he was the best candidate for the post, as well as his career success. The institution looks forward to this new phase with excitement and anticipation.