Readers may recall the New York Philharmonic's surprising decision last March to appoint Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as their artistic administrator. It turned out that this was a different Chad Smith, but it was a nice mental image while it lasted. Now Chad Smith has gone back to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, whence he came, and Matías Tarnopolsky, senior director for artistic planning at the Chicago Symphony, is replacing him at the Philharmonic. Tarnopolsky is a very smart musician-turned administrator, a committed twentieth-century and new-music advocate, a former schoolmate of Thomas Adès's at the Guildhall School of Music, a fan of experimental jazz. If I remember correctly, he is related to the Tarnopolskys of Argentina, most of whom were infamously "disappeared" during the military junta. Let's hope he has a chance to try out some new ideas at the Philharmonic. The job of artistic administrator can be a frustrating one: you float fabulously interesting proposals, which are then systematically shot down by the board, the musicians, the big donors, and the general power of the status quo. The LA Philharmonic is, notably, one place where that hasn't happened.
Update: Marc Geelhoed contradicts my claim that Tarnopolsky is a fan of free jazz. I hope I haven't dashed anyone's hopes for a Charles Gayle weekend at the Philharmonic.