The Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra (CCSO) 2016-2017 season showcases five finalists auditioning to become the next CCSO Maestro.
“Your City. Your Music. Your Orchestra.,” reads the tagline on the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra website. It’s a nice sounding phrase, but it’s more than a slogan to the CCSO’s staff and board members – it’s a promise.
For over 70 years the symphony has entertained, inspired, and educated audiences from around the Coastal Bend. Last year marked the end of a great chapter is CCSO’s history as the community said goodbye to world-renowned Maestro John Giordano. Over the past two years, the Conductor Search Committee reviewed potential applicants and narrowed it down to this group of five finalists. The committee received 144 applicants from around the world. This speaks to the reputation and caliber of the CCSO. The committee narrowed the field to the five finalists who are all competing in the 2016-2017 season to become the next Maestro, but the final choice is in the hands of the city and symphony goers.
The season kicks off on October 8th at 7:30 pm with guest conductor Aram Demirjian. Maestro Demirjian is the Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra and has appeared as guest conductor with symphony orchestras in Omaha, Fresno, Knoxville, and Memphis. Each conductor is selecting one guest musician to join them, and Demirjian has selected violinist Jennifer Frautschi. The following month, on November 12th, Maestro Robert Franz takes the stage with musician Changlu Wu on the pipa. Maestro Franz is Conductor and Music Director of the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra and Windsor Symphony Orchestra, and is Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony. He has appeared as guest conductor with the Buffalo, Louisville, and Carolina Chamber Orchestras.
The final three auditions take place in 2017, beginning in February with Maestro Akiko Fujimoto who is joined by pianist Norman Krieger. Maestro Fujimoto is Associate Conductor of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared on the podium with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Stanford Symphony Orchestra, and Harvard Bach Society.
March’s concert features Maestro Hector Guzman accompanied by pianist Joaquin Achucarro. Maestro Guzman is founding Conductor of the Plano Symphony Orchestra and conducts the Irving and San Angelo Symphony Orchestras. He is the past conductor of the Filarmónica de Jalisco and has appeared as guest conductor of symphony orchestras in Dallas, Phoenix, and Mexico City.
Last, but not least, is Richard Buckley. Maestro Buckley is the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Austin Opera. He is the past conductor of the Oakland Symphony and has appeared as guest conductor with numerous prestigious symphony orchestras including the London Royal Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Each finalist will be spending a week in Corpus Christi immersing themselves in the city and meeting with the community (elected officials, community leaders, board members, schools-students and orchestra directors, and the media). Each finalist was asked to create their own program to showcase their talent and conducting style. This allows the audiences to hear and see what they can expect from these final five Maestro hopefuls. With all the talent on display this season, no one will want to miss their chance to participate in deciding the future of music in the community.
Meet the Maestro - Aram Demirjian
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1) What made you decide to pursue conducting?
I grew up playing cello, and I was completely fascinated by the phenomenon of the symphony orchestra -- 70-plus people all working as individuals toward a greater harmonious goal. I wanted to be connected to as many aspects of that synergy as possible, and conducting seemed like the best way to do it!
2) Do you have any favorite composers?
Asking a musician to choose a favorite composer is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child -- it's impossible! I love so many composers, all for different reasons. But if I had to choose two composers that I simply could not live without, they would be Bach and Brahms.
3) Tell us a little bit about the program you will be conducting with the CCSO.
This program is quite eclectic, featuring a broad spectrum of different styles, time periods and sounds, from the familiar sounds of Mozart's The Magic Flute to the more exotic-sounding El Amor Brujo by da Falla. The ideas of romance and magic unify the program, which will also feature actors performing selections from Shakespeare to go along with Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet.
4) If you could say one thing to entice people who have never been to a CCSO concert, what would it be?
There is no right or wrong way to experience great music -- even if you don't know much about symphonic music, come with open hearts and open ears, and we'll guide you the rest of the way. Symphonic music is about being transported to new worlds and new emotional experiences exciting the imaginations of every person who listens to it, each in their own unique way. Plus, a night out at the symphony is even more affordable than a night at the movies!
5) When you're not conducting, what can we find you doing?
If I'm not reading or spending time with friends, I am likely watching football, baseball or basketball (but don't ask me what teams I root for...!)