Portland Symphony Names Four Finalists to Replace Music Director Robert Moody

Portland Symphony Names Four Finalists to Replace Music Director Robert Moody

PSO Music Director Robert Moody completes his tenth and final season in 2017-18 with five thrilling, capstone classical programs and the Magic of Christmas. Ken-David Masur, Daniel Meyer, Alexander Mickelthwate and Eckart Preu join the season as music director finalists, each conducting one classical and one pops concert, giving Portland an opportunity to see each conductor on the podium twice at Merrill Auditorium.

As the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) embarks upon its 93rd season and Music Director Robert Moody's 10th and final season, the PSO Board of Directors and Music Director Search Committee announce four finalists under consideration for the next music director.

Following an extensive international search, the four finalists are Ken-David Masur, assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony and artistic director of the Chelsea Music Festival; Daniel Meyer, music director of the Asheville Symphony and the Erie Philharmonic; Alexander Mickelthwate, music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and Eckart Preu, music director of the Long Beach Symphony, Spokane Symphony, Stamford Symphony, and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

The Music Director Search Committee, consisting of PSO Musicians, staff, trustees and members of the community-at-large, began their search in fall 2015 and received over 240 applications from men and women across the globe. After a thorough process that included reviewing submissions, checking references, reviewing videos, watching candidates perform, and conducting extensive interviews, the committee narrowed the pool to the four finalists.

"The Symphony is tremendously grateful to Robert Moody and his tenure here. Under Robert's guidance we've added the popular Discovery Concerts, working toward his aspiration of making music 'accessible to all, from age 4 to 104;' we entered an era of openness, strengthening our community ties, and we've operated in the black each year of his tenure, to mention a few highlights," said PSO Executive Director Carolyn Nishon. Looking ahead to the next music director, Nishon said, "The high quality of the candidates speaks volumes about the artistic and fiscal trajectory this organization has experienced over the last decade. We've fielded an incredibly strong pool of music director candidates, and we are proud to offer these four candidates as finalists to our community of musicians, educators, and music lovers. Next season, we will gather to celebrate Robert Moody and to see who emerges as the next artistic leader of our symphony."

Each of the four finalists will conduct two concerts in the 2017-18 season at Merrill Auditorium: one Classical concert in the PSO Classical series and one PSO POPS! program. Each program was proposed by its respective conductor and vetted by the Music Director Search Committee and Artistic Planning Committee.

"The PSO's music director plays multiple vital roles - on stage, behind the scenes, and in our community. He or she shapes the artistic growth of the organization through regular work with the PSO's wonderful musicians, and by designing compelling concert programs and helping bring artists from around the world to Portland to join the symphony in the shared power of live music," said Music Director Search Committee chair, Tim Boulette. "The music director position is a key artistic role in the City and the State of Maine, and the ability to make and maintain strong connections with musicians, educators, audiences, and supporters is crucial. When each finalist joins us in Portland, we will have an opportunity to see them partake in the full experience of being our music director: rehearsing and performing with the musicians, meeting with supporters, and presenting lectures and opportunities for dialogue with our audiences, just to name a few. We hope that many people in our community will take this chance to get to become familiar with the finalists."

Audience members will also be given a chance to share their feedback with the Selection Committee via online post-concert surveys.

Music Director Robert Moody will conduct the 38th annual Magic of Christmas and five Classical Series programs. His ten-year career as music director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra culminates with Mahler's Resurrection performed on Tuesday, May 1, 2018.



Ken-David Masur began the 2016/17 season by standing in at the last minute for an indisposed Christoph von Dohnanyi July 16th to lead the Boston Symphony in a program of Ives, Strauss (Four Last Songs with Renée Fleming) and Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, the Pathetique. Masur, who has been hailed as "fearless, bold, and a life-force" (San Diego Union-Tribune) and "a brilliant and commanding conductor with unmistakable charisma" (Leipzig Volkszeitung) again stepped in two days later to lead a performance of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Both concerts were notable successes. Further 2016 Tanglewood activities include leading the BSO again in Mozart for the annual Tanglewood on Parade concert and conducting in a gala concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of Boston University's Tanglewood Institute (Wagner, Brahms, and Bernstein). He ended the summer making his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, leading a concert of the Korngold Violin Cto. with Gil Shaham and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 at the Hollywood Bowl. continue reading

Masur was a PSO guest conductor in the 2013-14 season.

Ken-David Masur 2017-2018 PSO Concerts:

Brahms First Symphony

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 | 7:30 PM
(*note, this concert is on a Wednesday)
Ken-David Masur, conductor
Ran Dank, piano
WAGNER Tannhaüser Overture
LISZT Piano Concerto No. I
BRAHMS Symphony No. I

Oscars' Biggest Hits
Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 | 7:30 PM
Sunday, Jan 14, 2018 | 2:30 PM
Ken-David Masur, conductor

PSO Music Director candidate Ken-David Masur conducts the orchestra with a program of favorite movie melodies from decades of Hollywood classics.


Daniel Meyer, Music Director of the Asheville Symphony and Erie Philharmonic, conductor Daniel Meyer has reinvigorated both orchestras with his innovative programs, engaging presence and keen musical intellect.

Guest appearances in the 2016/2017 season include the Detroit Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Fresno Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and the West Virginia Symphony. In Europe, he leads the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen, the Staatsorchester Darmstadt, and the Nuremberg Symphony.

Meyer's eclectic and groundbreaking programs this season include works by David Diamond, György Ligeti, and Jennifer Higdon, in and amongst the masterworks of Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky; Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4; and great vocal works including Vaughan William's Donna Nobis Pacem, and Beethoven Symphony No. 9. continue reading

Meyer was a PSO guest conductor in the 2006-07 season.

Daniel Meyer 2017-2018 PSO Concerts:

Swan Lake

Sunday, May 13, 2018 | 2:30 PM
Daniel Meyer, conductor
Chee-Yun, violin
TCHAIKOVSKY Suite from Swan Lake
GLAZUNOV Violin Concerto
RACHMANINOFF Symphonic Dances

Rodgers & Hammerstein on Broadway
Saturday, April 21, 2018 | 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 22, 2018 | 2:30 PM
Daniel Meyer, conductor
Lisa Vroman, soprano


Alexander Mickelthwate German Conductor Alexander Mickelthwate is the Music Director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Since his appointment in 2006, Alexander has played a pivotal role in the development of the orchestra, which culminated in a highly successful and critically acclaimed performance at Carnegie Hall in May 2014 as part of the Spring For Music festival. The New York Times noted the performance was "conducted expertly" and the New York Classical review stated "under music director Alexander Mickelthwate, they play with excellent intonation and such a fine overall blend and balance of sound that, on their own terms, they may be the best orchestra to appear in the week's worth of concerts."

Alexander began his career in North America as Assistant Conductor with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and then Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Essa-Pekka Salonen. He has guest conducted the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Houston Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Milwaukee Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony amongst others.

Alexander gave his European debut was with the Hamburg Symphony in 2006. He has also conducted the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and NDR Hannover. Other notable performances include the Sao Paulo Symphony and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra in Venezuela. He made his Australian debut with the Adelaide and Tasmanian symphony orchestras where he recorded the Mozart piano concerti Nos. 7 and 10 with the Silber Garburg Duo. continue reading

Mickelthwate was a PSO guest conductor in the 2005-06 season.

Alexander Mickelthwate 2017-2018 PSO Concerts

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | 7:30 PM
Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor
Natasha Paremski, piano
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2

Invitation to the Dance

Saturday, November 11, 2017 | 7:30 PM
Sunday, November 12, 2017 | 2:30 PM
Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor

A pops program inspired by ballroom dance and symphonic music with live dancers on stage.


Eckart Preu is Music Director of the Spokane Symphony (WA) and the Stamford Symphony (CT). He is also the newly appointed Music Director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

The 2016-17 season will mark his 11th and final season as Music Director of the Stamford Symphony (CT). With the 2017-18 season, he will assume the Music Director position with the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra (CA).

Previously, he held the positions of Associate Conductor of the Richmond Symphony(2001-2004), Resident Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra (1997-2004) and the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra (1999-2004). Other former posts include Music Director of the Norwalk (CT) Youth Symphony and Principal Conductor of the New Amsterdam Symphony (NY). He was associated with the Bard Music Festival from 1997 to 2004 as both Assistant and Guest Conductor.

In Europe, Mr. Preu served as Music Director of the Orchestre International de Paris (1993-1995). continue reading

Preu was a PSO guest conductor in the 2010-11 season.

Eckart Preu 2017-2018 PSO Concerts

The Blue Danube!
Sunday, March 4, 2018 | 2:30 PM
Eckart Preu, conductor
Caroline Goulding, violin
Joshua Roman, cello
BRAHMS Double Concerto
J. STRAUSS On the Beautiful Blue Danube

'S Wonderful! A Gershwin Celebration
Saturday, September 30, 2017 | 7:30 PM
Sunday, October 1, 2017 | 2:30 PM
Eckart Preu, conductor
Jacqueline Bolier, soprano

This all-Gershwin program features standards from the Gershwin songbook including "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," "Porgy and Bess," and more.

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