Here is my Monday September 14, 2009, Chicago Sun-Times and suntimes.com news story on Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal flute Mathieu Dufour.
Chicago, L.A. orchestras both claim dibs on CSO's top flutist
BY ANDREW PATNER
LUCERNE, Switzerland -- In a case that might vex King Solomon, orchestras in both Chicago and Los Angeles are claiming flutist Mathieu Dufour as theirs for the 2009-10 concert season.
French-born and -trained, Dufour is one of the world's most admired -- and coveted -- flutists. For the past 10 years he has called the Chicago Symphony Orchestra home, serving as section principal since he was recruited from Paris by former music director Daniel Barenboim in 1999.
Dufour took leave time last season to play with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on a lengthy Asian tour and at its Frank Gehry-designed home, Walt Disney Concert Hall.
On Friday night, at the very moment that the CSO was taking to the stage of the Berlin Philharmonie to start its own European tour, the Philharmonic put out a press release saying that Dufour was leaving the CSO to become its principal flute.
Touting the young instrumentalist as a perfect counterpart to new music director Gustavo Dudamel, Philharmonic president Deborah Borda said in the release that she was "particularly delighted to welcome him to the Los Angeles Philharmonic family."
Not so fast, said another Deborah, CSO president Deborah Rutter, in Berlin. Dufour remains principal flute of the CSO and is playing the full Europe tour with principal conductor Bernard Haitink; two concert weeks in Chicago with music director-designate Riccardo Muti; three weeks of programs with conductor emeritus Pierre Boulez, including a tour to New York's Carnegie Hall, and the June all-Beethoven Festival also with Haitink.
It is traditional for principal players who consider moving to new orchestras to do so with a formal leave of absence from their current chairs. And that is what Dufour is doing, although he is playing many more Chicago programs than is usual in such situations.
CSO administrators said that it is not their policy to announce new appointments until a player's existing ones elsewhere have been resolved. They expect to know by the spring which city can truly claim the prized flutist.
"Everyone in the music business knows that these things are trial periods at first," Dufour said Sunday in Lucerne, Switzerland, where the CSO is continuing its five-city, nine-concert tour.
"I don't know anything about press releases."