San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

National Symphony Moves to Turn the Page

The sound of change will ring through the halls of the National Theater tonight, at the first concert of the National Symphony Orchestra’s (OSN) official season.

Chosei Komatsu will wield the baton for what may be his final year as conductor and artistic director, having announced his resignation last year but promising to stay on until a permanent replacement is found.

Tonight and Sunday, Komatsu will lead OSN through renditions of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” Grieg’s Concerto in A Minor and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor. Joining the orchestra will be guest pianist Jacques Sagot.

According to Culture Minister María Elena Carballo, five candidates have been identified so far as possible successors. Four have accepted invitations to perform as guest conductors this season, the minister said, adding that the process may continue through next year until the right fit is found.

“We don’t know, because we could find the perfect match very soon,” Carballo said, adding, “Or we could not.”

Inviting guest conductors has been a hallmark of Komatsu’s tenure, which began in 2004. Four of the five potential selections have performed with OSN before in recent years, which Komatsu said would be helpful for the selection and transition process.

“It’s good that the orchestra and public know them, instead of a blind date,” he said.

Komatsu, who announced his resignation in December, said it was “time to move on” but said he would fulfill his “responsibility” to see OSN through the transition.

“I hope it’s going to go smoothly,” he said. “The audience and orchestra need stability. They feel good that until new leadership comes in, I’ll be there. Already, that’s very settling.”

The period of change “is a mutual understanding” with the musicians, he added.

Both Carballo and Komastu said they are particularly looking forward to the season’s seventh concert, which will take place June 26 and 28 and feature world-renowned Japanese violinist Midori. Named a United Nations “messenger of peace” in 2007, Midori will also spend time here working with the youth orchestra and offering private concerts for children to promote music education.

Komatsu, who has known Midori since 1983 and called her “a close personal friend,” said the violinist’s visit would be a perfect fit with the Culture Ministry’s efforts to expand OSN’s appeal to new audiences.

To further that aim, OSN will also perform for the first time this year in the Southern Zone and the Caribbean province of Limón.

Carballo said her ministry is hoping to reach “an audience absolutely different than the audience we traditionally see at the symphony.”

“If the OSN is truly national, it does not have one audience; it has all of Costa Rica as its audience,” she said. “We are looking for new audiences for culture. These audiences exist; we just need to give them the opportunity.”

Concerts are scheduled every few weeks through November, Fridays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m.; watch the Calendar pages for upcoming dates. Tickets range from ¢1,000 to ¢15,000 ($1.80 to $27) and are available online at and at the National Theater box office.

For information, call 2221-5341.


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