New director for troubled Halle

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THERE WAS little by way of fanfare yesterday at Manchester's pounds 42m Bridgewater Hall as the Halle Orchestra unveiled Mark Elder as its new musical director.

Instead, the Halle tried to put its troubled recent past aside. Mr Elder joins an orchestra so poor it cannot afford to rehearse in this stunning building, created as its new home. "This is the end of the beginning," said departing chief executive Leslie Robinson, enigmatically, as Mr Elder was introduced.

Mr Elder, 52, conductor of the English Opera from 1979 to 1993, said: "I am proud to be joining the Halle. They are an orchestra with a great history and great tradition. They have been associated with quality, innovation and inspiration." Mr Elder takes up his position in September next year, but will start immediately on the more humbling task of working on the Halle's application for stabilisation funding.

Mr Elder replaces Kent Nagano, the flamboyant Japanese-American conductor who had become an expensive luxury. Under Mr Nagano, the Halle accumulated debts ofpounds 1.8m and lost 18 players.

Mr Elder's contract is for an initial three years. It involves at least 24 concerts over a 12-week period each year. Mr Elder will soon be joined by John Summers as chief executive.

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