The South Bend Symphony has its opening concert this weekend, and its first Music Director candidate.
This entire year is devoted to our Music Director search. I’ve been on the search committee ever since the process started, and it’s wildly exciting to finally get to meet these people and to play for them and to make music together. Our five masterworks concerts each feature a different candidate.
I play with a lot of different ensembles, and I’ve been through an MD search before. Even jaded old me is thrilled to see what changes these conductors will bring. One of my favorite aspects of this search is how much our management is trying to involve EVERYONE. The candidate’s week will consist of multiple meetings – with board, staff, musicians, university music departments, community leaders, YOUNG community leaders – and everyone who crosses paths with the candidate will get a survey to fill out. The audience will vote. The musicians will vote. The whole town is participating in this.
Our previous Music Director served for twenty-eight years. You heard that right. There are people in my orchestra and in our community who truly have never known anything different. Besides the occasional guest conductor or odd outside gig, the South Bend Symphony’s artistic leadership has been constant and unchanging for nearly three decades. Our executive leadership turned over completely last year, we have a new young board president, and everything seems to be coming up SBSO right now. It’s a very exciting time.
So please come out and join us this Saturday night! We are playing Dvorak’s New World Symphony – an oldie but a goodie – and bringing in Chicago Symphony Concertmaster Robert Chen to do the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. (It will be the first time I’ve sat in the orchestra for this piece since performing my transcription two years ago, and I JUST recorded it for my new CD, so I’m delighted to re-encounter it from the other side!) The opening work is an orchestral showpiece by Carter Pann called Slalom – all flying arpeggios and swooshing scales, as befits a piece about skiing. And the first conductor candidate is Alastair Willis.