By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – As an audience member at the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, it will be, in part, up to you to help the Symphony select the new conductor.
“We’re encouraging people to buy subscriptions so they can attend all three concerts,” said executive director Thomas Wolf. “Afterwards, audience members can fill out forms and rate each conductor.”
On Monday, May 6, the Symphony announced that, of 73 applicants, three finalists had been chosen to vie for a chance to succeed Chuck Schneider as music director/conductor: Silas Nathaniel Huff, Carolyn Watson, and Maciej Żóɫtowski.
“They all bring different strengths,” said Wolf. “But all of them are very interested in helping build the orchestra and helping the organization grow.”
Laurie Zimniewicz is chairing the search committee, which formed in the wake of Schneider’s announcement last spring. “It’s was a long, exhausting process,” said Wolf. “We reviewed resumes and watched videos for every candidate. And here we are.”
Huff is the musical director of the Astoria Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Pops Orchestra and the Boulder Concert Band, as well as the conductor of the 44th Army Band (New Mexico’s National Guard Band). He holds degrees from Texas State University and UCLA, and in 1999, won First prize in the Los Angeles Valley Composition Competition for “Begging The Question,” an homage to modernist composer Charles Ives.
Watson, the director of Orchestral Studies at The University of Kansas took home a top prize at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest. She has conducted orchestras throughout Europe including the Brandenburg Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Kodály Philharmonic, Savaria Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Operetta Theatre, Bulgarian State Opera Bourgas and in Russia, the St and holds a PhD in Performance (Conducting) from the University of Sidney.
Żóɫtowski collaborates with many Polish symphony orchestras including the National Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio (Katowice), the Polish Radio Orchestra (Warsaw), the Polish Orchestra Jeunesses Musicales, Beethoven Academy Orchestra and Poznan Philharmonic. He studied violin at the F. Chopin and J. Elsner Music Schools in Warsaw, where he also received M.As in conducting and composition.
The three were each in town last week tour the facility and interview for the position. “It was very thorough,” said Wolf.
They will not, however, be required to relocate to the area. “We only do four concerts a year,” said Wolf. “They will fly into town when we need them to. The week of the show, there are four two-and-a-half hour rehersals, so they’ll have 10 hours of time with the orchestra.”
Each conductor will have a chance to perform for an audience; Huff will conduct on Saturday, Sept. 7, Watson on Saturday, Oct. 12 and Żóɫtowski on Saturday, Nov. 16.
And once the committee has had a chance to review the audience remarks, as well as input from the orchestra and the board of directors. Wolf hopes a decision will be made by December.