Saturday, February 27, 2010

Surprise announcement from the Niagara Symphony

So there I was, sitting at my desk Friday afternoon, starting to think about what I was going to write on my Saturday morning blog entry, mulling over several possibilities, when an e-mail came in from the Niagara Symphony, and I had my entry. In a way, the announcement I received yesterday afternoon was a bit of a surprise, to say the least, so let's look at it now.

The Music Director competition is now down to three candidates from four, with the announcement John Morris Russell, whom many considered a strong candidate for the position, has withdrawn from the competition, citing an inability to fulfill the commitment needed to properly guide the orchestra into the future. Maestro Russell states: "the future of the (Symphony) depends on a musical leader who can devote himself or herself wholeheartedly to the huge tasks at hand, and I no longer believe I can make the kind of commitment (the Symphony) will need to move forward".

In issuing the press release, Niagara Symphony Executive Director Jack Mills expressed disappointment with Maestro Russell's decision, but noted he was not surprised, given the conductor's increasingly busy schedule both in Canada and the United States. Mills writes in the release the Maestro's schedule for next season would only have allowed him to conduct one concert in the entire season.

So, some questions here. Was the availablility of Maestro Russell beyond this season not known going into this competition? Obviously not all his dates would be set two years in advance, but if it looks like he could only conduct one concert next season if he won this competition, we're no further ahead than we are right now. Or was the chemistry simply not there with the musicians in Maestro Russell's mind and he did the honourable thing and withdrew from the competition to give the others a better chance of winning? We'll probably never know, but one has to wonder.

I liked what he brought to the table, and what he achieved with the Symphony in a relatively short period of time. Maestro Russell is an energetic, forward-thinking conductor who shows great promise, and it is surely a loss to Niagara that he decided to withdraw. But perhaps it is all for the best, as we need someone now to devote their time to reshaping this orchestra and making it their own, and that cannot be done while conducting the occasional concert here and there.

The question has to be raised, in light of this development, where do we stand with the remaining three conductors in the race? All three have commitments to other orchestras at the moment, with Diane Wittry conducting two other orchestras at the present time, for example. Are these three remaining candidates willing and able to devote the time and effort necessary to making the Niagara Symphony a better orchestra? All three clearly have the tools; but do they have the time? I think we are right in asking the question before the end of this search for a new Music Director.

There is a vital need to get this right this time. I like all three of the remaining candidates, so we have no shortage of talent available to us. But we need the commitment, and we need it soon. I hope the remaining three candidates are serious in their desire to lead the Symphony into the future.

We have one more Masters, April 11th with Bradley Thachuk conducting, and two final Pops! performances May 1st and 2nd with Diane Wittry conducting. So we still have time to get this right, but not that much time. After all, May is only two months away, and the decision on a new Music Director comes soon afterwards, I'm told.

Tickets are still available for the remaining concerts this season through the Brock box office, by calling 905-688-5550, ext. 3257.

Should be an interesting finish to this season-long search!

February 27th, 2010.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good~ keep sharing with us, please....I will waiting your up date everyday!! Have a nice day........................................