The Barcelona-born conductor’s selection, which is the culmination of a 21-month search, would not have been announced until June if Leighton Smith had been well enough to conduct this weekend. (Caballé-Domenech will reprise his role during the season’s final performance Sunday at 2:30 p.m.)
This is actually the second time that the 38-year-old conductor has filled in for Leighton Smith on just a few weeks’ notice. Back in February, a month after the 74-year-old maestro had been diagnosed with a form of dementia called Binswanger’s Disease, the substitute conductor proved so impressive that the Philharmonic’s search committee unexpectedly added him to the ranks of its original five finalists.
"The musicians saw him in rehearsal and were so impressed that they asked us to consider him," Philharmonic president/CEO Nathan Newbrough told the Independent at the time. "And our search committee, after lots of deliberation, decided to allow it."
Prior to signing his five-year contract with the Philharmonic, Caballé-Domenech had chosen to remain independent, amassing international credentials that include recordings and performances with the Stockholm Philharmonic, the San Antonio Symphony, and London's Royal Philharmonic.
Look for an in-depth interview with Caballé-Domenech in next Thursday’s Independent.