News Column

North State orchestra seeks audience's help to audition four conductors

June 20, 2014

By Joe Szydlowski, Redding Record Searchlight, Calif.



June 20--The North State Symphony Orchestra will have not one but four conductors in its upcoming season.

Peter Jaffe, Scott Seaton, Brian Stone and Christian Baldini will each conduct a concert in Redding and in Chico that also will serve as auditions, said Robert Knight, dean of Chico State's College of Humanities and Fine Arts, at the symphony's annual meeting at the McConnell Foundation'sLema Ranch on Thursday evening.

They are competing to replace Kyle Wiley Pickett, who has taken over as music director for two orchestras in Missouri and Kansas, said Gayle Tilles, chair of the symphony's board of regents.

Pickett led the orchestra since it was formed 13 years ago, she said.

"It's going to be big shoes to fill," she said. "He really grew as the orchestra grew."

Knight said each of the candidates has a doctorate degree, a long history of conducting and a connection to Northern California.

Baldini serves as the conductor of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra and the Camellia Symphony Orchestra in Sacramento. He has also worked with international orchestras, Knight said.

Stone, whose mother grew up in Colusa County, has taught at the University of Delaware and conducted orchestras in five countries and nine states, Knight said.

Scott Seaton is in his third year as conductor of the Minot Symphony Orchestra in North Dakota. He also serves as the assistant conductor of the Festival Opera in Walnut Creek.

Jaffe has been the conductor of the Stockton Symphony for almost 20 years. He also serves as music director of the Stockton Opera.

The conductor's work extends far outside the orchestra hall, Tilles said. He organizes fundraisers, conducts community outreach and gives a speech before each performance, she said.

The conductor is also a faculty member at Chico State, Knight said. A committee of philanthropists and musicians chose the four candidates from a list of 42 people, said Richard Macias, of Chico, who served on the committee.

The orchestra will survey audience members about each performance and consult with the musicians before recommending a conductor to Knight.

Fitting in well with the orchestra and the communities, as Pickett did, are keys to conducting, said Candace LiVolsi, a harpist with the orchestra and member of the hiring committee.

"(Pickett) has a lot of respect for the musicians. For that, we had even greater respect for him," LiVolsi said.

"We revered him," said Janetta DeMott, a fellow member of the orchestra.

Tilles said she expects a final decision by June 2015.

Symphony schedule

The North State Symphony will hold eight concerts directed by four conductors this season at the Cascade Theatre in Redding and the Laxson Auditorium in Chico. Each concert will also serve as an audition for the conductors, who are competing to replace Kyle Pickett, who has taken over as conductor of two other symphony orchestras in the Midwest.

Christian Baldini

Redding: 2 p.m. on Sept. 21

Chico: 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 20

Brian Stone

Redding: 7:30 p.m.Nov. 15

Chico: 2 p.m. on Nov. 16

Scott Seaton

Redding: 2 p.m.Feb. 21

Chico: 7:30 p.m.Feb. 22

Peter Jaffe

Redding: 7:30 p.m.May 9

Chico: 2 p.m.May 10

For more information, including the planned pieces, go to Redding.com.

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Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)