Friday, September 5, 2008

Who Will It Be?

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra recently released details of its 2008-2009 Masterworks Season, along with the names of the six finalists for the position of music director. Since 1971 the orchestra has been led by William Hudson, whose retirement at the end of the 2007-2008 season has sparked an intensive two-year search for a successor. The new music director will assume that position beginning with the 2009-2010 season. In addition to conducting rehearsals and concerts, the duties of a music director include planning the repertoire and soloists for each season, auditioning new players, and serving as the public face of the FSO. He or she also shapes its education and outreach programs, and embodies the overall philosophy and artistic direction of the organization.

The process is a long and painstaking one, as befits a post so prestigious, responsible, and widely coveted. It is being managed by a search committee comprising members of the board of directors and musicians from the orchestra. The initial phase of the process involved screening and evaluating the credentials and recommendations of 241 applicants for the post. That number was reduced to 24, at which point personal interviews commenced. Six finalists were eventually chosen, one for each of the six scheduled Masterworks concerts of the 2008-2009 season. After each finalist has conducted, surveys will be taken to gather the reactions and opinions of players and search committee members. Reactions of audience members will also be taken via questionnaires handed out at performances.

Current plans call for the announcement of the new music director to be made in June, 2009.