Tacoma Symphony Searches for New Music Director

18 Jun

By Hannah Franke, Tacoma Arts Commision Intern

In its quest for a new Music Director, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has announced the much-anticipated selection of four finalists: Paul Haas, Sarah Loannides, Kevin Rhodes, and Scott Speck.

In 2011, TSO Music Director Harvey Felder announced that he will be leaving the position at the end of the 2013-2014 season, his 20th anniversary.

“Under the leadership of Maestro Felder, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra’s transformation from community to professional orchestra has been fully realized,” stated TSO Executive Director, Andy Buelow. “We now seek to move to the next level of growth as a regional artistic and educational resource.”

 A 13-member Music Director Task Force, chaired by Immediate Past President Clark D’Elia, began the search for Felder’s replacement with over 100 applicants from international backgrounds. The task force includes TSO board, staff, musicians, chorus, subscribers, donors, and community stakeholders.

Each finalist will guest conduct with the TSO during the 2013 calendar year; TSO will announce its selection in early 2014.

About the Candidates
Each of the four finalist conductors is nationally acclaimed and will bring his/her own individuality to the TSO orchestra and repertoire. These bios are courtesy of the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra.

Sarah Ioannides

Hailed as “a conductor of unquestionable strength and authority” by The New York Times, Sarah Ioannides was named by the Los Angeles Times in 2009 as “one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium.” Ioannides is the current music director of the Spartanburg (SC) Philharmonic and previously served in that post for the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Past positions include assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops and music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. Ioannides will conduct the TSO on Sunday, February 24, 2013 in a program featuring Rota’s Divertimento Concertante for Double Bass and Orchestra, among other works. The soloist will be TSO principal double bass Christopher Burns. The concert will conclude with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D minor.

Paul Haas

The New York Times has declared conductor Paul Haas “on the brink of a noteworthy career.” Time Out New York calls him “visionary.” Current music director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, Haas is founder and artistic director of Sympho, a concert production company that features unexpected performance methods and unorthodox venues. Formerly music director of the renowned New York Youth Symphony, Haas garnered an ASCAP-League of American Orchestras Bernstein Award for educational programming. An active composer, he conducted the premiere of his Matthew Says for orchestra, chorus, and two violin soloists at Carnegie Hall in 2007. Haas will appear with the TSO on Saturday, May 4, 2013 conducting Alexandra Bryant’s Strange Attractors, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (with pianist Stephanie Leon Shames), and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4.

Kevin Rhodes

Called “a highly accomplished conductor” by Opernwelt, Kevin Rhodes has had a career spanning several continents and more than two decades. His work extends from the major opera houses of Europe to the concert stages of the U.S. Rhodes currently serves as music director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MA), where he has been lauded for “heart-on-the-sleeve musical integrity” and “sure-footed, elegant and exciting performances.” (Springfield Union-Times) He also serves as music director of Boston’s Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra (MI), which he has transformed from its roots as a community ensemble into one of the Midwest’s finest professional per service orchestras. During all this he has remained a regular guest conductor of the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, the Vienna State Opera, and Paris Opera. A trained pianist who often conducts from the keyboard bench, Mr. Rhodes will open the TSO’s 2013-2014 season in October of 2013.

Scott Speck

“As energetic as he is talented!” raved the Baltimore Sun about conductor Scott Speck, current music director of the Joffrey Ballet and of the West Michigan and Mobile (AL) symphony orchestras.   His gala performances with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Midori, Evelyn Glennie and Olga Kern have highlighted his recent and current seasons as music director of the Mobile Symphony. In recent seasons Scott Speck has conducted at London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, Washington’s Kennedy Center, San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, and the Los Angeles Music Center. Speck’s name is familiar to many as the best-selling co-author of Classical Music for Dummies, Opera for Dummies and Ballet for Dummies. The last of the four candidates, Speck will conduct the TSO in November of 2013.

Who will be the one person to direct Tacoma Symphony Orchestra into the future? Only time will tell. Reserve a seat this season to watch the action begin to unfold.

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