Vermont Symphony Orchestra Announces Andrew Crust As New Music Director

Crust begins a four-year term starting with the orchestra’s 2023-2024 season.

Vermont Symphony Orchestra Announces Andrew Crust As New Music Director

Now in its 89th year, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO) is thrilled to announce the appointment of Andrew Crust as its fifth Music Director. Crust was selected out of a pool of seven finalist candidates and succeeds Jaime Laredo, who stepped down from the position in 2021 after a twenty-year tenure leading the orchestra. Crust's first concert as the VSO's Music Director will take place on September 30, 2023 at the Flynn in Burlington.

Crust says, "I am overjoyed and deeply grateful to the musicians, staff, and Board of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra for choosing me to be the orchestra's next musical leader in its 89th season. I want to also recognize the immense impact of outgoing Music Director Jamie Laredo, whose artistic vision shaped this orchestra over two decades and paved the way for exciting new growth in the future. When I performed for the first time with the VSO in February 2023, I was immediately struck by not only the orchestra's extremely high artistic quality and sense of pride, but also their desire to explore new repertoire, and to continue to evolve and adapt as the modern world continues to change. I am very much looking forward to the impactful and transformative work we will do together in the coming seasons."

"I couldn't be happier that we've found Andrew to join the VSO family," says Executive Director Elise Brunelle. "Planning his visit to conduct the orchestra last month in Burlington, I could already tell what a great match Andrew was for Vermont. I'm convinced of his knowledge and confidence as a conductor and communicator, and his understanding of musicians' needs and experience. Andrew has a wealth of inspiring ideas to take us forward, is enthusiastic about music education and our statewide role, and has a true love of Vermont. We can't wait to get the ball rolling!"

American/Canadian conductor Andrew Crust has developed a versatile international career as a conductor of orchestral, opera, ballet, film, pops, and choral programs. In his recent and upcoming seasons, Crust conducts the Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary, San Diego, Arkansas, Elgin, Rockford, Chattanooga, Memphis, Hartford, Billings, Vancouver Island, Laval, Nova Scotia, and Bozeman Symphonies. He has collaborated with soloists such as Tracy Silverman, George Li, Charles Yang, Sandeep Das, Awadagin Pratt, and Laquita Mitchell, and in the pops realm, Rufus Wainwright, Michael Bolton, Tony DeSare, Dee Daniels, and more. Crust served as Associate Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony from 2019 - 2022, the Memphis Symphony from 2017 - 2019, the National Youth Orchestra in 2017 and 2018, and Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. He is currently in his third year as Music Director of the Lima Symphony where he conducts Grand Series, Pops, and Education programs.

"We knew our next Music Director would also play a key position in another orchestra and have a robust independent conducting life. This is quite common for orchestras of the VSO's size. It provides the Music Director with irreplaceable experience in and connections to the broader world of music which are highly beneficial to his time spent here in Vermont," explains Brunelle.

While a large part of Crust's initial VSO season has already been planned, he is integral to completing the artistic choices for next year's concerts and looks forward to the VSO's 90th season in 2024/2025 to fully flesh out an artistic vision for Vermont's state orchestra. The VSO's 2023/2024 season will be announced at the beginning of May.

"As Music Director it will be my goal to choose programming which serves the entirety of Vermont," says Crust. "That means programming works by composers of color, female composers, creating new collaborations with local creative professionals, engaging world-class guest artists while also promoting our young local talent who will one day shape the future of our industry, and offering audiences a healthy dose of the ever-relevant "classics" while also celebrating and cultivating the work of living composers. Luckily, the VSO has been doing that work for decades, and the foundation is strong!"

The 13-member Music Director search committee included members of the orchestra, board, staff, and representatives from local arts organizations who assessed the pool of candidates over the past two years. Audience and musician surveys were taken into consideration for the final decision, as well as meetings with donors, arts partners, local music education organizations, and a "dream VSO season" provided by each candidate after conducting the orchestra.

Bob Kenny, Chair of the VSO Board of Directors, says "The Board is extremely pleased to be bringing Andrew in as The VSO's next Music Director. The consistently high quality of each candidate we brought in to conduct the orchestra is testament to the work of our search committee, the staff, and the reputation of the VSO. Whoever emerged from that process, as the VSO's next Music Director, had to be exceptional. Andrew is all of that. All parties to the process are looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Andrew as the Music Director of the VSO. "

Crust's experience includes engagements with Opera McGill, Boulder Opera, Ballet Memphis, Cirque de la Symphonie, and the United States Jazz Ambassadors. He has composed orchestral arrangements of compositions by Alma Mahler, Sergei Prokofiev, and Florence Price, as well as educational programs. He has been awarded prizes and residencies by The Solti Foundation, the Accademia Chigiana, the Nestle/Saltzburg Festival, and the Vienna Philharmonic's Ansbacher Fellowship program and has conducted overseas with the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana in Italy, Hamburger Symphoniker at the Mendelssohn Festival in Germany, the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic, and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile in Santiago.

"Ever since the days of my conducting studies at McGill University in Montréal I have loved Vermont. I used to come through Burlington quite often, and I can't think of a more alluring place to work and make music. Mountains, lakes, the vibrancy of a college town paired with the rugged, yet relaxed New England feel--who could ask for more? I look forward to meeting all our Vermont patrons across the state and sharing the gift of music with all of you for many seasons to come," says Crust.


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