Grand Rapids Symphony Embarks on Music Director Search

Media Contact:
Samara Napolitan
Grand Rapids Symphony
616.454.9451 x 4

Exceptional conductors from around the world will lead the Grand Rapids Symphony in concerts as the orchestra plans for the conclusion of David Lockington’s remarkable tenure as Music Director.

The Grammy®-nominated Grand Rapids Symphony, the second-largest performing arts organization in the State of Michigan, is receiving strong interest in the Music Director role from outstanding conductors from across the United States and internationally. One of the guest conductors on the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series will be named as the new Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony.

International Music Director Search

The organization’s Music Director Search Committee is comprised of members of the Grand Rapids Symphony, members of the GRS Board of Directors, and other community leaders, working closely with the organization’s senior administrative leadership. The Search Committee is Co-Chaired by GRS Board Members Larry Robson and Mary Tuuk.

Subsequent to David Lockington’s announcement of his intention to conclude his tenure as Music Director, numerous conductors expressed interest in the possibility of succeeding Lockington in this role leading the Grammy®-nominated Grand Rapids Symphony, which has been recognized nationally for the excellence of its concerts and educational programs.

Kynan Johns, Marcelo Lehninger and James Meena are guest conductors who are candidates that will conduct the Grand Rapids Symphony during the 2014-15 Season.

This month, Kynan Johns will lead the orchestra on October 24 and 25 in concerts featuring Copland and Brahms. Later this season, Brazilian-born Marcelo Lehninger will lead the Symphony in music of Dvorak, Bernstein and Haydn on February 20 and 21, 2015. Subsequent to this, James Meena conducts music of Mozart, Barber and Tchaikovsky on March 27 and 28.

Along with conductors who led the Symphony last season, including Mei-Ann Chen, the 2015- 16 Season will introduce up to eight guest conductors who will lead the orchestra as it seeks its next Music Director.

Upcoming guest conductors will lead performances on the Symphony’s Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Seasons. Conductors have been chosen from an international slate of talented artists from around the world.

In addition to each conductor’s remarkable musical skills, the Symphony seeks a leader who is willing and able to provide leadership in the multi-faceted role of Music Director of an organization with a busy and wide-ranging schedule of performances.

Sustaining Excellence

Search Committee Co-Chair Mary Tuuk spoke about the Search Committee’s approach for selection. “The role of Music Director requires a talented musical leader with a diverse range of abilities on and off the podium,” said Tuuk. “At the same time, the Search Committee recognizes that the music comes first. Musicianship is our top priority. Candidates who demonstrate the desired artistic excellence will then be further differentiated utilizing other considerations in our decision process.”

“The appointment of a new music director is an extraordinarily important decision for our Symphony,” said Larry Robson, Co-Chair of the Music Director Search Committee. “Our musicians, board members, staff and other community leaders will continue to work together as potential candidates are considered for this fundamental role affecting the future of our orchestra and its role in our community.”

Grand Rapids Symphony President and CEO Peter Kjome spoke about the search process and importance of sustaining artistic excellence. “Our orchestra continues to receive wide attention for achievements related to both artistic and operational excellence, and our Symphony is well positioned for the future,” said Kjome. “We are encouraged by the very high level of interest by exceptional conductors who are excited by the possibility of building on David’s work as a superb artist and community builder.”

Appointment of Music Advisor

The Grand Rapids Symphony has appointed a Music Advisor to help ensure continued artistic excellence during the term of the search process. Larry Rachleff will guide planning for the 2015-16 Season and will conduct the orchestra for several weeks. Rachleff is not a candidate for the Symphony’s Music Director role. Rachleff is the Walter Kris Hubert Professor of Music and Music Director of the Shepherd School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras and serves as Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic in addition to his guest conducting engagements.

Lockington's Appointment as Music Director Laureate

Following the Symphony’s 2014-15 Season, David Lockington will conclude his tenure as Music Director, a record 16 years in this role. At that time, he will become the first Music Director Laureate in the Symphony’s history. Lockington will continue to hold leadership roles with orchestras in California and Spain and maintain a busy guest conducting schedule.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony

The Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Director David Lockington, ten concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some 170,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community service programs. The Symphony’s Affiliated Organizations include the Grand Rapids Bach Festival, Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. The Symphony also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. To learn more about the Symphony, please visit