Best Act to Leave Broward-Palm Beach in the Past 12 Months

James Judd

On and off the podium, the former music director of the Florida Philharmonic was interesting. He often began concerts by regaling the audience with pithy comments about the music or the composer, then turned around and incited impassioned performances from the orchestra's players, many of whom loathed him. Judd deserves much of the credit for raising the philharmonic to its current level of prestige. His abrupt resignation this past November 19 came on the same day as the restructuring plan to save the philharmonic was released. Sour grapes? Megalomania? Maybe. But it's clear that for 14 years, Judd, with his sparkly blue eyes, wavy mane, and Continental manners, charmed South Florida into giving chunks of its many fortunes to keep the philharmonic afloat. To rescue the orchestra from the musician's strike of 2000, Judd donated part of his salary to help meet payroll. Judd works on the other side of the world now -- in New Zealand, to be precise -- and continues to guest-conduct many of the world's orchestras. And though he was a real character, the Florida Philharmonic has weaned itself from him and is now standing on its own wobbly feet.

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