Audiences to weigh in on choice for Port Angeles orchestra conductor

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES –– This year's Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra season, each concert also will be an audition, with audience members asked to give their opinions of five guest conductors, one of whom will end up with the permanent job.

“We thought it was a unique way to see how they really do leading our orchestra,” said Marie Meyers, a member of the orchestra's board of directors and head of the conductor search committee.

“It also gives them a chance to see how we play under them.”

The symphony's 83rd concert season has dates of Nov. 1 and Dec. 13 this year, and Feb. 7, March 14 and April 18 of 2015.

The Port Angeles ­Symphony Orchestra will bring in five of the 24 applicants for the conductor position to the upcoming symphony season, according to Meyers.

One of the applicants will replace Adam Stern, who had led the orchestra — made up of volunteer musicians from Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend and Forks — for nine years.

Each of the semifinalists will lead a regular season concert, and audience members will be asked to complete short written surveys about the guest conductor afterward.

“We're really excited about all the candidates that have applied so far,” Meyers said. “I think it will end up being a tough call.

“There's a lot of very talented people who want to be our conductor.”

The selected conductor is expected to take over full time in July 2015. The advertised salary is $40,000 to $50,000 a year.

The symphony's governing board voted not to renew its contract with Stern last May, following the conclusion of the 2013-14 concert year.

Stern, 58, also conducts the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra and teaches composition, film music history and conducting at the Cornish College of the Arts.

Community orchestra

Stern's goal was to make the symphony “a world-class orchestra. And we wanted a community orchestra,” board member Chuck Whitney said in May.

Stern was paid “a half-time salary,” board members said then.

One of the primary concerns for the search committee was finding a candidate who wants to live in the area, Meyers said.

The orchestra will next perform a Pops and Picnic concert Sept. 26 at the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula and Sept. 27 at the Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles.

That performance, not part of the orchestra's regular season, will be led by guest conductor Ron Jones, conductor of the Port Angeles High School Roughrider Orchestra.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 02. 2014 5:31PM
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