Following the retirement of John Varineau in May 2021, a search committee was formed to discuss the process to find a replacement. This past November we announced the position opening for the Assistant Conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony and received an extensive number of highly qualified, diverse, and talented conductors from across the globe.

The nine-member search committee, comprised of Grand Rapids Symphony musicians, artistic leadership, board, and staff, dedicated a significant amount of time and effort to review and discuss the candidates. We are pleased to announce that we have narrowed our choices to four exceptional candidates who have accepted our invitation to come to Grand Rapids to audition and interview with us.

Our four finalists are:

AARON VAUGHN - Mr. Vaughn is currently the Assistant Conductor of Sinfonia Gulf Coast under Maestro Demetrius Fuller. He has extensive experience with collegiate and youth orchestras. Before focusing on conducting, he worked as a professional violinist. He earned his Master’s in Orchestral Conducting in 2019 from the Florida State University College of Music.

CONSTANÇA SIMAS - Ms. Simas has acted as assistant conductor in several productions with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Welsh National Opera, and Orquestra sem Fronteiras. Through July 2022 she will be participating in the Young Women Opera Makers residency of the Académie du Festival Aix-en-Provence. She recently graduated with Distinction from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, receiving a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting.

DUO SHEN - Mr. Shen, originally from Beijing, came to the United States in 2008. He is an accomplished violinist and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. Additionally, he obtained a Professional Studies Diploma in Orchestra Conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music. A strong advocate for new music, Mr. Shen has performed and premiered numerous newly composed pieces both as a conductor and violinist.

KAREN NÍ BHROIN - Ms. Ní Bhroin is Assistant Conductor of North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Symphony, Music Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony Youth Orchestras Program, and Associate Conductor and Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2019 she was appointed Assistant Director of the Akron Symphony Chorus, and in 2020 made her debut with the Akron Symphony Orchestra. A music education graduate of Trinity College Dublin, she earned her Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting at Kent State University. Ní Bhroin is originally from Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Between May 9-17, 2022 these conductors will have the opportunity to work with the Grand Rapids Symphony including the opportunity to lead a special FREE public performance in DeVos Performance Hall on May 12. NO TICKET REQUIRED to attend this concert.

MAY 12 PROGRAM - 7:00 PM
MOZART  Rondo for Violin & Orchestra in C Major
Eric Tanner, violin

Concerto No.3 in E-flat Major for Horn & Orchestra
Erich Peterson, horn

JOHN KANDER / arr. Ricketts Selections from Chicago

CLAUDE-MICHEL SCHONBERG / arr. Lowden Selections from Les Miserables

LEONARD BERNSTEIN / Arr. Mason Selections from West Side Story

RICHARD RODGERS / arr. Bennet Selections from The Sound of Music
Alyssa Bauer, vocalist

FELIX MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3 in A minor, op.56, “Scottish”

The candidates will also rehearse with the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony on May 16 and, during the course of their week here, will meet with various stakeholders and explore our community. This process has been designed to engage the conductor who creates the best mutual match with the organization.