Conductor Pittman stricken, leaving two Boston ensembles rudderless

June 10, 2020 at 11:56 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Conductor Richard Pittman has suffered a severe stroke, leaving two of Boston’s most innovative ensembles artistically rudderless at an already intensely challenging time for the arts.

Longtime music director of the New England Philharmonic and Boston Musica Viva, the 85-year-old conductor was stricken in March. (His illness is wholly unrelated to Covid-19.) While Pittman continues to recover, his recuperation is both “challenging and slow,” according to NEP.  Sadly, it seems unlikely that the enterprising conductor will be able to return to the podium anytime soon, if at all.

The two organizations are responding differently to the situation.  

Noting Pittman’s essential involvement with Boston Musica Viva from its beginning, BMV is not planning a fall season. A released statement by BMV president Richard Cornell and executive director Robert Pape stated “Due to these challenges . . . we will not be announcing any future programming now. Instead, we are taking a step back to evaluate how we might best fulfill our mission of advocating for living composers and their music in this rapidly changing world.”

The New England Philharmonic, conversely, plans to continue with a 2020-21 season, with details to be announced in the coming months. “We believe the best way for us to honor Dick is to continue the mission and high standards that he has fostered in the NEP over the last 23 years,” said NEP president John Kessen. 

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3 Responses to “Conductor Pittman stricken, leaving two Boston ensembles rudderless”

  1. Posted Jun 10, 2020 at 11:28 pm by Roberto Pace

    A wonderful force in Boston’s cultural life.
    Heartfelt best wishes.

  2. Posted Aug 08, 2020 at 1:14 pm by Rosemary Griffin

    So sorry to hear. You are conductor extrodinaire- I had a wonderfully rewarding 10 years under your baton in the Concord Orchestra. You were always right on when we needed you.
    My violin playing is very limited now, but still involved in chorus and piano.
    Very best of wishes and a big Thank You for your excellence.
    Warmest regards,
    Rosemary Griffin

  3. Posted Aug 21, 2020 at 2:58 pm by David

    i volunteered for Musica Viva for a decade helping to sell their recordings at concerts. Richard is a national treasure. I hope the board of directors gets good advice on how to proceed.

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