In May 2010, a few months after Mathieu Dufour decided to return to his old chair in Chicago, the Los Angeles Philharmonic held auditions for a new Principal Flute to replace him. They ended up offering the position to David Buck, then principal with the Oregon Symphony, without requiring any kind of trial period.
Fast forward to the present, and it appears that after two years of playing with the orchestra, Mr. Buck was not awarded tenure in the position. So in the near future, the LA Phil will need to find a Principal Flute once again. This is on top of the Second Flute audition that the orchestra is holding this coming August, the second attempt to permanently fill the position that has been handled by substitute players since Cathy Karoly was promoted to Associate Principal in 2009.
In the meantime, Mr. Buck is getting ready to make his next move — earlier this week, he won the Principal Flute audition with the Detroit Symphony. It’s good to see that he landed on his feet. No confirmation yet on when he will officially depart Southern California for Michigan.
Photo: Los Angeles Philharmonic Association
Wasn’t he hailed as a flute god when he got the LAPO job???
It’s like the NYPO and the clarinet spot, well, not exactly.
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Lisa, I think the man heralded as a “flute god” was actually Mathieu Dufour, whose brief tenure here ended on the sourest of notes with him trashing the Phil, Dudamel, and his onetime colleagues publicly in the Chicago papers. Buck is a nice player, but there’s something about his sound to me that doesn’t seem to fit seamlessly with the rest of the wind section. I wish him all the best as he moves on to Detroit.
Search this very blog for the term “flute god.”
Right you are. And Esa-Pekka Salonen called Gustavo Dudamel “a conducting animal,” so I guess these days it’s better to be beast than deity.
I thought Mr. Dufour’s playing was/is impressively distinctive and I thought his departure was a major bummer. I don’t think Mr. Buck’s playing was quite at the same level; however, I thought he played well and I enjoyed his contributions to the orchestra, and had he been given tenure, I would have been neither surprised nor disappointed.
Of course, there’s more to being in an orchestra — especially as a principal — than just playing well. Obtaining tenure usually depends on a combination of musical and non-musical issues (not all of which strictly depend on the candidate in question), and it is unclear what reason (or reasons) led to this decision by the orchestra to not award tenure in this case.
The Detroit Symphony is a solid orchestra, but they are lucky to be getting Mr. Buck, and most especially given their current re-building status. Their entire percussion section is gone, their Principal Bass just left to take the same job in Chicago, and as previously mentioned in a prior post, their Principal Cello is a finalist for the open LA Phil chair, among other notable departures. Best of luck to both musician and orchestra.
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