Latvian conductor to helm 2012 Vienna New Year's Concert

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The Independent Culture

Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons will helm the world's most famous classical music performance, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's New Year's Concert, on January 1, 2012, the orchestra said Friday.

It will be the second time Jansons, the 67-year-old director of the Dutch Royal Concertgebouworchestra and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, leads the concert after a previous appearance in 2006, the orchestra's management said in a statement.

Selected - as were his predecessors - by the philharmonic's musicians, who have managed the orchestra since 1842, Jansons is among only 16 elite conductors to lead the performance, which will celebrate its 72nd anniversary in 2012.

Jansons will follow Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Moest, who was chosen for the first time to lead the traditional New Year's waltz fest on January 1, 2011.

The cultural event, normally sold out a year in advance and broadcast in more than 70 countries as well as on the Internet, was expected to draw some 50 million viewers and listeners, from Albania and Australia to India, China, Russia and the United States.

Considered one of the leading conductors to emerge from the former Soviet Union, Jansons was born in the Latvian capital Riga in 1943, the son of the renowned conductor Arvid Jansons, who died in 1984.

He studied violin, piano and conducting at the conservatory in Leningrad, the present-day Saint Petersburg, and graduated with honours.

He rose to stardom as the heads of the Oslo and Pittsburgh philharmonic orchestras.