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Symphony board narrows conductor search

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Midway through its 77th season, the Springfield Symphony Board of Directors has selected six finalists to audition for the music director/conductor position during the 2012–13 season.

Before the start of this season, eight-year conductor Ron Spigelman turned down a contract extension offered by the board.

Each of the candidates will conduct one of the six classical concerts during the Springfield Symphony’s 78th season, according to a news release. After each concert, the audience, orchestra, Springfield Symphony staff and board members will evaluate the auditioning conductor. The release said all evaluations would be equally weighted, and the finalist with the highest score would get the position.

The six finalists and their performance dates are Darko Butorac, Oct. 13; Andrés Franco, Sept. 22; Kyle Pickett, March 23; Marc Taddei, Nov. 3; Markand Thakar, Jan. 19, 2013; and Diane Wittry, April 27, 2013.

• Butorac serves as the music director of the Missoula Symphony in Montana and the principal conductor of the Fidenza Opera Festival in Fidenza, Italy. He has more than 10 years of experience.

• Franco is the associate conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and executive director of Caminos del Inka Inc., a project to rediscover, preserve, expand and disseminate the music legacy of the Americas. He was previously the music director for the Philharmonia of Kansas City for six years.

• Pickett works as music director of the Juneau Symphony in Alaska and the North State Symphony in California. Previous experience includes work at the Rogue Music Theatre in Oregon, the Santa Rosa and Paradise symphonies in California, the University of Delaware Symphony and the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra in Mexico.

• Taddei is music director of the Wellington Orchestra in New Zealand. He previously served as music director for New Zealand’s Christchurch Symphony for six seasons and has 10 years of experience.

• Thakar works as music director of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra in Minnesota, the music director of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and principal conductor of the Duluth Festival Opera. He was previously the assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic and has written two books, appeared regularly on NPR’s “Performance Today” 1998–2000, and lectured at Harvard University.

• Wittry is music director and conductor for Allentown Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania and the artistic director for the International Cultural Exchange Program for Classical Musicians with the Sarajevo Philharmonic in Bosnia. She has worked with orchestras across North America, Europe and Asia, and has composed four pieces and written a book.

The Springfield Symphony’s first concert of 2012 is scheduled Jan. 21, featuring cellist Michael Murray at Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. The season concludes May 12 with a tribute to the music of Disney, according to SpringfieldMoSymphony.org.

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