The Tacoma Symphony Orchestra has selected maestros Paul Haas, Sarah Ioannides, Kevin Rhodes and Scott Speck as finalists for the position of music director. These four conductors were the pick of an international search that began with more than 100 prospects, executive director Andrew Buelow announced today. The news comes just over a year after TSO Music Director Harvey Felder announced that he will relinquish the post at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 season, his 20th Anniversary.
"Under the leadership of Maestro Felder, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra's transformation from community to professional orchestra has been fully realized," stated Buelow. "We now seek to move to the next level of growth as a regional artistic and educational resource. We will achieve this in partnership with our new artistic leader by forging a unique identity and a reputation for creative programming, community relevance, and artistic vibrancy."
The search process has been led by a 13-member Music Director Task Force, chaired by immediate past president Clark D'Elia of Intel Corporation. The team includes members of the TSO board, staff, musicians, chorus, subscribers, donors and other community stakeholders.
All four candidates will guest with the TSO during the 2013 calendar year between February and November. Because the artistic season straddles two calendar years, the first two candidates will appear on the second half of the 2012-2013 Season, with the latter two visiting the community to kick off the 2013-2014 Season in October and November. The TSO will announce the new music director early in 2014.
Hailed as "a conductor of unquestionable strength and authority" by The New York Times, Sarah Ioannides was named by the Los Angeles Times in 2009 as "one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium." Ioannides is the current music director of the Spartanburg (SC) Philharmonic and previously served in that post for the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Past positions include assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops and music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. Ioannides will conduct the TSO on Sunday, Feb. 24 in Wagner's Overture to The Flying Dutchman followed by Rota's Divertimento Concertante for Double Bass and Orchestra. The soloist will be TSO principal double bass Christopher Burns. The concert will conclude with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D minor.
The New York Times has declared conductor Paul Haas "on the brink of a noteworthy career." Time Out New York calls him "visionary." Current music director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, Haas is founder and artistic director of Sympho, a concert production company that features unexpected performance methods and unorthodox venues. Formerly music director of the renowned New York Youth Symphony, Haas garnered an ASCAP-League of American Orchestras Bernstein Award for educational programming. An active composer, he conducted the premiere of his Matthew Says for orchestra, chorus, and two violin soloists at Carnegie Hall in 2007. Haas will appear with the TSO on Saturday, May 4 conducting Alexandra Bryant's Strange Attractors, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 (with pianist Stephanie Leon Shames), and Brahms' Symphony No. 4.
Called "a highly accomplished conductor" by Opernwelt, Kevin Rhodes has had a career spanning several continents and more than two decades. His work extends from the major opera houses of Europe to the concert stages of the U.S. Rhodes currently serves as music director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MA), where he has been lauded for "heart-on-the-sleeve musical integrity" and "sure-footed, elegant and exciting performances." (Springfield Union-Times) He also serves as music director of Boston's Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra (MI), which he has transformed from its roots as a community ensemble into one of the Midwest's finest professional per service orchestras. During all this he has remained a regular guest conductor of the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, the Vienna State Opera, and Paris Opera. A trained pianist who often conducts from the keyboard bench, Mr. Rhodes will open the TSO's 2013-2014 season in October of 2013.
"As energetic as he is talented!" raved the Baltimore Sun about conductor Scott Speck, current music director of the Joffrey Ballet and of the West Michigan and Mobile, Ala. symphony orchestras. His gala performances with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Midori, Evelyn Glennie and Olga Kern have highlighted his recent and current seasons as music director of the Mobile Symphony. In recent seasons Scott Speck has conducted at London's Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, Washington's Kennedy Center, San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House, and the Los Angeles Music Center. Speck's name is familiar to many as the best-selling co-author of Classical Music for Dummies, Opera for Dummies and Ballet for Dummies. The last of the four candidates, Speck will conduct the TSO in November of 2013.