The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announced that with effect from October 2019 Maestro Charles Dutoit, currently the RPO’s Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, will assume the position of Honorary Conductor for Life. This will be the first occasion in the RPO’s seventy-year history that the position has been bestowed and it is being given in recognition of Maestro Dutoit’s contribution to the artistic life of the Orchestra over more than five decades.
Charles Dutoit made his debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in November 1966 at the Royal Festival Hall, an occasion which proved to be the catalyst for one of the world’s great musical partnerships, both on the concert platform and in the recording studio. Over this period, Maestro Dutoit has introduced a succession of international soloists to the Orchestra, including Martha Argerich who first worked with the RPO in 1970, recording Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 for the Deutsche Grammophon label. Prior to his appointment as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the RPO in 2009, Charles Dutoit held titled positions with other international orchestras, most notably his twenty-five-year tenure as Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (1977–2002), Music Director of Orchestre National de France (1991–2001), Music Director of the NHK Symphony in Tokyo (1996–2003) where he is today their Music Director Emeritus, and a thirty-two-year standing relationship with the Philadelphia Orchestra, with whom he now holds the position of Conductor Laureate.
Over the last eight years the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has flourished under Maestro Dutoit’s inspiring artistic leadership, which has resulted in many memorable performances including Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust (Royal Festival Hall, April 2013), Les Troyens (Grand Théâtre de Genève, October 2015) and Stravinsky’s three complete ballet scores (Septembre Musical, Montreux, August 2016). The Orchestra’s collaborations with Charles Dutoit have been lauded by audiences and critics alike, with The Telegraph stating "Charles Dutoit was a wizard, conjuring up all the darksome effects of Bartók's Duke Bluebeard’s Castle" (BBC Proms, August 2016).
Charles Dutoit has played an important role in developing the RPO’s international profile, performing with the Orchestra in twenty-six countries and including an annual residency at Septembre Musical, Montreux, a biennial concert tour of the USA and a regular programme of touring in the Far East, where Maestro Dutoit and the RPO undertook a three-year residency at Shanghai’s Music in the Summer Air Festival (August 2010–2012).