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Three candidates vie for San Juan Symphony music director position

The Daily Times staff
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Four guest conductors will lead the San Juan Symphony during its 30th anniversary season starting in October, with three of those individuals serving as candidates to fill the role of the organization's new music director.

Blake Richardson, Thomas Heuser, Geoffrey Robson and Philip Mann will be the guest conductors for the 2015-16 season, which opens Oct. 3 and 4 with a performance of Brahms' Second Symphony. Richardson, Heuser and Robson are all candidates for the music director position left vacant at the end of last season when Arthur Post — in his 13th year leading the symphony — stepped aside.

Richardson is the director of orchestral studies at the University of Alabama and will lead the October concerts. He is a Fulbright Scholar who received his doctorate in orchestral conducting from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in August 2012. He joined the conducting staff of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in 2014 and has served as principal conductor for the Wildwood Academy of Music and the Arts. He is the recipient of scholarships and awards from the Vienna Philharmonic, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Chautauqua Institution, and the National Opera Association.

Heuser will conduct the November concerts, "Pictures and Visions," which will feature the work of Mussorgsky, Dvorak and Maurice Ravel. He received his doctorate in orchestral conducting from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music in 2013. Heuser was named music director of the Idaho Falls Symphony in 2011. He also has served as the principal guest conductor of the San Francisco Academy Orchestra since 2013. In 2010, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for orchestral conducting in Munich, Germany. He also has conducted the Idaho State Civic Symphony, the Hayward Festival Youth Orchestra, the Utah Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra.

Robson leads the third weekend of concerts in February, "Unforgettable Triumph," featuring the work of Shostakovich. He completed his master's degree in violin performance at Yale University in 2004 and later enrolled in the orchestral conducting program at the Mannes College of Music in New York City, where he also studied choral conducting and opera. Robson has been the associate conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra since 2008 and the music director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Youth Ensembles since 2012. Last year, as visiting professor of music at the University of Central Arkansas, he also conducted the Conway Symphony Orchestra.

The season will conclude in April with the Beethoven Festival led by Mann, now in his fifth season as music director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. As a Rhodes scholar, he studied and conducted at Oxford, and was later honored as both an American Conducting Fellow and a winner of the Vienna Philharmonic's Karajan Fellowship. He has recorded Brahms with the London Symphony Orchestra and done additional work with l'Orchestre symphonique de Québec, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Georgian State Opera and the National Symphony of Cyprus.

Symphony performances take place in Farmington, and Durango and Cortez, Colo. The San Juan Symphony Youth Orchestra also will perform concerts in December and April.

Season tickets are on sale through the symphony's website at sanjuansymphony.org. Call 970-382-9753 for more information.