Three different conductors will direct the Juneau Symphony next season. They hope to replace Kyle Wiley Pickett, who will lead the Topeka Symphony and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, after 14 years in the capital city.
The search began at the end of the 2013 symphony season, when musicians and board members gathered to answer three questions:
What are you looking for in the next conductor? What role does the symphony play in your life? What role do you think the symphony plays in the Juneau community?”
Search committee chairwoman and violinist Kristin Garot says the questions were asked again in the summer and fall. The answers helped the 15-member committee come up with traits the orchestra wants in a new conductor.
Garot says lessons learned from the last recruitment, in 1999, and the Music Director’s Search Handbook from the League of American Orchestras morphed into a blueprint for the current search.
In October, the job was announced on the Conductors Guild website.
Nearly 70 applications rolled in. Only 28 made the first cut. That list was reduced to 13 conductors, who were interviewed over Skype, resulting in a list of nine. Committee members voted on each person to get to the remaining three.
Though the job pays only about $35,000 a year, Garot says the volunteer Juneau orchestra demands a lot of its conductor.
“Not only are they there to lead the musicians but they’re also kind of the face of the orchestra to the community,” she says. “We want someone who’s dynamic, who can energize an audience and speak to them about what they’re listening to. We also want someone who can connect with our youth audience and our youth organizations and help build that part of our program.”
That means music director, long-range planner, fundraiser, and grand communicator.
The three finalists claim to be adept at all.