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American Kent Nagano leaving Montreal symphony in 2020

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Montreal (AFP)

American conductor Kent Nagano will leave his post as head of Montreal's symphony orchestra in 2020, the group announced Thursday.

"After a long deliberation, he has decided not to accept the invitation by the OSM," said a statement from the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, "to extend his contract as music director beyond 2020."

Nagano joined the orchestra in 2006, and twice previously agreed to prolong his stay in Montreal.

"Over the past (16) years we have accomplished nothing short of a miracle in shaping such a vital, financially stable, boldly innovative orchestra that continues to illuminate the relevance of the symphony orchestra for the 21st century," Nagano said.

He described his pending departure as a "natural transition point at which to change the nature of our relationship," adding that "we are presently enjoying creative discussions about the directions in which that could lead."

The orchestra, established in 1934, plans its lineup years in advance and so will start the search for a replacement maestro immediately, it said.

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