2017–2018 to Be Robert Moody’s Last Season with Winston-Salem Symphony
National Search for next Music Director to be Conducted Over Two-year Period
Robert Moody and The Winston-Salem Symphony announced today that the 2017–2018 season will be his 13th and farewell season as Music Director. Moody will continue in his roles with both the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Arizona Musicfest.
“From the outset, Bob Moody concurred that 10 years is a healthy tenure for a Music Director to serve and for an orchestra to work under one artistic leader’s vision, allowing for the possibility of a very short extension of that tenure if artistic chemistry and contributions were still vibrant,” said Steve Karr, Chair of the Winston-Salem Symphony Association’s Board of Directors. “This guidance has lead our thinking about artistic succession planning ever since. When Bob approached the end of his first 10 years with us in 2014, the artistic chemistry was still excellent and we felt there was still work to do together.
“At that time, the Symphony was pleased to extend his contract one final time for an additional three years through 2017–2018. Today, we are delighted and proud to be able to work with and strongly support Bob as he takes the next major step in his career to pursue an exceptional opportunity befitting his professional accomplishments,” Karr said.
In sharing the news, Maestro Moody reminisced, “It was the fulfillment of a dream for me to accept the position of the Winston-Salem Symphony Music Director, just over 12 years ago. I will never forget the feeling of being introduced to the community, accompanied by a trumpet fanfare, no less!
He continued, “It was always our shared belief that a decade of leadership, give or take a few years, was the right fit for the Winston-Salem Symphony and for me. When the 10-year mark approached, we all felt that there was still more for us to do together. I’m incredibly proud of all that we’ve accomplished, and all that we still have to accomplish in the coming season and a half. I will always think of Winston-Salem as ‘home,’ and will remain the single greatest fan of the Winston-Salem Symphony.”
During Moody’s tenure, the Symphony has celebrated many significant achievements, including the following key artistic accomplishments: the addition of the Plugged-In Pops Series, later augmented by the addition of A Carolina Christmas; the creation of the Discovery Concerts for Kids Series and the Handel’s Messiah performances; the Kicked-Back Classics series; and the addition of nearly annual special concerts featuring world-renowned superstar artists including: Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Van Cliburn, Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell, Sir James Galway, Robert McDuffie, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Midori and performances featuring esteemed popular artists such as Chris Botti, Eileen Ivers, Judy Collins, Manhattan Transfer, Doc Severinsen, Amy Grant, Rhiannon Giddens, and the U.S. Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club.
Moody oversaw the addition of the Concert for Community, a side-by-side playing experience for members of the Youth Symphony (the most advanced Youth Orchestras Program ensemble) and the Winston-Salem Symphony, with winners of the annual Peter Perret Youth Talent Search Competition as featured guest soloists (this became the second free concert for the community each year); the assimilation of the Youth Orchestras Program into the Winston-Salem Symphony and addition of a third ensemble (Premiere Strings) to the program, joining the Youth Philharmonic and Youth Symphony Orchestras; and the addition of a full time Assistant Conductor position to the artistic staff.
E. Merritt Vale, Winston-Salem Symphony President & CEO, said of Moody’s tenure, “Regional orchestras are important training grounds for talented conductors like Bob. He was the Music Director Search Committee’s unanimous choice as Music Director based on volumes of feedback from musician, board, staff, volunteer, audience, and Search Committee surveys following a highly competitive nationwide search conducted during the 2004–2005 performance season. He has been a tremendous asset to our orchestra and our community. We are proud of his efforts to grow and strengthen our Symphony, his unwavering commitment to sharing great music of all kinds with people of all ages, and his desire to present exciting performers and composers, both established and new, to our audiences. He will be greatly missed but we can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”
The 2017–2018 performance season, which will be announced soon, will be a year-long celebration of Maestro Moody’s remarkable contributions to the orchestra and the community. The season will feature a collection of Moody’s favorite musical works and the return of many guest soloists, once “Friends of Bob” who are now also “Friends of Winston-Salem.”
The Winston-Salem Symphony is a professional regional orchestra. As such, one of its important roles is to provide an environment and opportunities that support exceptionally talented conductors as they hone their craft in preparation for taking the next significant step in their professional conducting careers. This occurs at both the Music Director (artistic leadership) and Assistant Conductor levels.
“Against this backdrop, it is cause for celebration when the Winston-Salem Symphony recruits phenomenal conducting talent, and when we collaborate with that same talent to launch them into the professional orchestral field with fortified skills and experience, to take the next exciting step in their career,” said Vale.
A Music Director Search Committee has been formed and will hold their first meeting in January 2017. The Committee will be under the joint leadership of Symphony Board members Dr. Malcolm Brown (who chaired the Symphony’s 2004–2005 Music Director Search Committee) and James Dossinger (who served on the 2004–2005 Music Director Search Committee) with membership including: six members of the orchestra representing the four families of instruments: John Beck (percussion), Corine Brouwer (Concertmaster), Alex Johnston and Paul Sharpe (strings), Kathy Levy (woodwinds), and Joe Mount (brass and Orchestra Committee Chair); seven additional members of the Symphony Association Board of Directors: Gerry Gunzenhauser (also a Symphony Chorale member), Dr. Frank James, Joia Johnson (also a Symphony Chorale member), Steve Karr, Dr. David Levy, Dr. Michael Lischke, and Dr. Steve Mizel; and four members of the staff: Merritt Vale (President & CEO), Dr. Christopher Gilliam (Symphony Chorale Director), Jessica Morel (Assistant Conductor), and Art Bloom (Search Committee support—non-voting).
Given all that has been accomplished artistically during Moody’s tenure, the strength of the organization, the exciting evolution of Winston-Salem during the same timeframe (Arts District, downtown revitalization, Innovation Quarter, etc.), and the presence of unique artistic assets like the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Symphony is confident that this search will yield an incredibly large and talented pool of applicants.
The timeline will be similar to the 2004–2005 Music Director search: the position will be posted in the spring of 2017 with applications due early summer 2017; the applicant pool will probably be reduced to approximately 12 semi-finalists by fall 2017, and to 5 finalists and 1 alternate by late 2017. During the 2018–2019 Music Director Audition Season, each finalist will conduct at least one Classics concert cycle, most likely between September 2018 and March or April 2019. They also will be actively engaged in educational, donor engagement, and social events throughout the community, which will provide tremendous access and opportunities for interaction for all who are interested in participating in the process, and opportunities to get to know each finalist both on and off the podium.
In addition to personal interaction and engagement with finalists, those attending events will have opportunities to complete surveys rating experiences with each finalist. These surveys will play an important role in evaluating finalists and ultimately selecting the new Music Director. The Symphony intends to announce a new Music Director by May 2019.
The 2017–2018 season will also mark the conclusion of Moody’s tenure as Music Director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra (Maine), a post he has held since 2008. In addition to his continuing work with Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Arizona Musicfest, upcoming guest conducting will include a debut with Opera Carolina in Charlotte, and return engagements with The Brevard Music Center and Sewanee Music Festival. Moody will focus a good amount of the next decade in the world of opera.