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Gainesville symphony searches for new maestro

POSTED: July 16, 2010 11:42 p.m.

The board of the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra has elected to not renew the contract of Gregory Pritchard, who has served as the symphony’s music director for the past seven years, and is launching a nationwide search for the new face of the orchestra.

Candace Monnerie, executive director of the GSO, said they already have received a flood of interest from potential candidates. But the board is in no hurry to find a replacement, and is lining up two experienced interim music directors to guide the upcoming season.

“Greg has been very instrumental with the work he’s done for us, but we’re going in a different direction than where he was taking us,” she said. “We’re in the process of going in a new direction, relaunching and reinvigorating the symphony, and we felt with this process, we needed a new face that was going to symbolize that energy.”

Monnerie said the search for a new director will be an open, communitywide effort involving social media.

Each candidate will have a YouTube video explaining why they feel they would be a good fit for Gainesville, and a blog on the GSO’s website will give search updates.

It’s important for community members, as well as the musicians who play in the symphony, to chime in, she said.

In the meantime, two interim music directors will split the season and add their new spin on what the GSO performs. The next concert is “A Night at the Movies” on Oct. 16.

But even the performances will be different, Monnerie said, incorporating more visual elements, whether they be actors, singers or films playing during the show.

They also will include a live Twitter feed, allowing audience members to offer feedback on the piece as it is played.

The process is similar to what’s happening with the Macon Symphony, she said, which also didn’t renew their music director’s contract and is trying out three young, new conductors — and seeking the community’s input during the process.

“I think the public will see the difference between these two people and (also) the potential for great music that’s going to come out of the GSO,” Monnerie said.

A few finalists will be announced at the end of the current GSO season. Then each conductor will present the repertoire they think speaks the best for Gainesville.

Ultimately, the final choice, Monnerie said, is a maestro who can take “an artistic lead, a musician who is a conductor and having that ability to merge well into the community.

“I want somebody who is going to easily be able to come in and everyone appreciate who they are and actually want to watch them perform.”



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