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Symphony announces finalists for conductor position

Posted: April 24, 2014 - 12:01am

The Juneau Symphony has announced the three final candidates for the position of conductor of the Juneau Symphony. Current music director and conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett, who has led the symphony for the past 14 years, will be stepping down at the end of the 2013-2014 season.

The three candidates are Wesley Schulz, music director and conductor of Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra in Bainbridge, Wash.; Troy Quinn, music director of the Portsmouth Institute Orchestra in Portsmouth, R.I.; and Jeremy Briggs Roberts, music director and conductor of the Washington Idaho Symphony in Pullman, Wash.

The three candidates were selected from among more than 70 applicants from all over the country, said symphony president Bev Smith. That made the selection process a difficult and exciting experience for the 15-member selection committee, of which she was a member.

“We were very excited by the quality (of the candidates),” Smith said.

Kristin Garot, a member of the orchestra and search committee, said they tried to find someone who would fit the symphony’s unique needs.

“For me, it’s about finding the best match,” she said. “It’s not about finding the best conductor out there in the world period. It’s about finding the best person who’s the best match for us right now. We’ve grown so much as a symphony since I joined.”

Pickett, Juneau Symphony conductor since 2000, took two new positions last spring. He will be music director and conductor for both the Topeka Symphony Orchestra in Kansas and the Springfield Symphony in Missouri. The three candidates for his replacement were officially announced today.

If chosen, Schulz and Briggs Roberts would likely continue to lead their other orchestras in Washington state, just as Pickett led the North State Symphony in California during his years as Juneau conductor, Smith said. The third candidate, Troy Quinn, just received his doctorate in conducting, Smith said.

“He’s sort of like Kyle was (when we hired him), fresh out of school,” she said.

Earlier this month, Quinn was also named a finalist for the associate conductor position with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, according to The Buffalo News.

All three candidates are athletic types excited about the possibilities of exploring Juneau terrain, Smith said.

Each candidate will lead one of the symphony’s four concerts during the 2014-2015 season. The fourth will be conducted by a guest conductor.

Pickett will continue to serve as music director for the next season and will assist the candidates in their music selection to provide the Juneau community with a varied program.

Each candidate will be in town for about two weeks in preparation for their concerts. At that time, a number of events will be planned so the Juneau community can have a chance to meet them.

The final decision will be announced in June 2015 at the pops concert. It will be made by the board and symphony players, collectively known as symphony members, but input from the community will be taken into consideration.

“As a player, I want to hear what other people have to say,” Garot said. “I want community feedback.”

The search committee, which formed in June last year, was made up of a mix of board members, musicians and community members.

“We tried to actively seek out some of the younger players to join us as well as people who have been in the organization a long time who have spanned several directors,” Garot said.

The initial list of 70 was narrowed to 30 with the help of a committee-designed scoring guide, and then, after more research and discussion, to 13. The 13 finalists were interviewed via Skype.

“It was really fun to talk to these people, they were really energetic and enthusiastic about the possibilities,” Garot said.

After more research, discussion and reference calls, the committee narrowed it to three. Both women said the decision wasn’t easy.

Smith said the new conductor will be encouraged to guide the symphony into new territory.

“It’s interesting to think about the three candidates and where they will take us next,” Smith said. “The door is open. The sky’s the limit.”

•••

Here’s a little more information about the three candidates:

 

TROY QUINN

Current position: Music Director of the Portsmouth Institute Orchestra

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Providence College; master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music; doctorate in conducting at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.

More information: www.troyquinn.com

Scheduled Juneau performance date: Nov. 15-16.

 

WESLEY SCHULZ

Current position: Music director and conductor of Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Festival Orchestra, Bainbridge Island Youth Orchestras and the Everett Youth Symphony Orchestras.

Education: Bachelor’s in percussion performance and music education from Ball State University; master’s and doctorate in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin.

More information: http://www.wesleyschulz.com and http://www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org

Scheduled Juneau performance date: Feb. 7-8.

 

JEREMY BRIGGS ROBERTS

Current position: Music director and conductor of the Washington Idaho Symphony in Pullman, Wash.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science and music from the University of Puget Sound; doctorate in musical arts in orchestral conducting from the University of Washington.

More information: http://www.washingtonidahosymphony.org/index.php/2013-2014-artists/jeremy-briggs-roberts

Scheduled Juneau performance date: March 28-29.

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