As he put his paw print to his brand new Munich Philharmonic contract earlier today, Valery Gergiev promised he would bring more opera in concert to the Gasteig when he begins his reign as chief conductor in 2015. Speaking to the assembled press in English, he said "The public loves opera", which he sees as a way of bringing in new audiences. His plans include works rarely or never heard in Munich before, and he didn't rule out synergies with his Mariinsky schedule.
Gergiev first heard the orchestra as a student when they visited St Petersburg (then known as Leningrad) in 1975 with Rudolf Kempe. Working with students and young people will be another of his priorities in Munich, and he promised that the German repertoire would form the core of his programme. "German music plays a very important role in my life," he said. (Diplomatically, we must assume - there's none on his 2013-14 LSO schedule). He must have also pleased the local council, tired of fending off requests for a costly new concert hall, when he pronounced the Gasteig's controversial acoustic "good".
Describing Germany as the cultural leader of Europe, Gergiev said he felt at home there. But he warned there would be a domino effect if German efforts to promote culture were to decline.