The new leader raising the baton for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra also will aim to raise the bar on building audiences and building a relationship with the community.
Toward that end, five candidates, conducting one concert each this season, will vie for the music director post to be filled by summer, according to members of the orchestra’s search committee. The season, with a fitting theme of “First and Lasting Impressions,” begins Sept. 21 at Columbus North High School’s Judson Erne Auditorium.
Roger Kalia, the previous local music director who signed last season as assistant conductor of the Charlotte (North Carolina) Symphony Orchestra, was found through the same process in the 2009-10 season, according to Laura Andrews, chairwoman of the symphony’s search committee.
“Roger was the perfect person to meet our needs at that time,” Andrews said. “And he helped build our numbers (of players).”
The mostly-volunteer ensemble includes a base of 30 to 35 area musicians, often from junior high students to adults, per concert. That group then is supplemented by about 15 additional players, often paid professionals, from nearby locales such as Bloomington and Indianapolis.
Ideally, the orchestra would like to sign its new conductor to a three-year contract paying between $7,500 and $8,500 per year, according to symphony leaders.
“But our ultimate desire would be a longer-term relationship with them, for the sake of continuity,” Andrews said.
Before Kalia, Indianapolis’ Arkady Orlovsky led the orchestra from 1992 to 2009. He and his pianist wife, Tamara, a frequent guest artist with the symphony, will return to perform briefly at the opening concert.
The veteran violinist mentioned that she sees a lot to like about the candidates.
“The nice thing for me personally is that three of them are strings players,” Andrews said. “But all of their programs seem pretty unique.”
She added that one key the selection committee will evaluate will be how the leaders deal with working with amateur musicians will full-time jobs, families and other obligations.
“That definitely is one of the higher priorities,” Andrews said.
Symphony board president Harry Pray III mentioned that the candidates are seasoned professionals.
“They definitely all have plenty of experience,” Pray said.
While preparing for the first concert, the orchestra also still is recruiting musicians for the season.
Rehearsals began Aug. 5 and continue from 7 to 9 p.m. nearly every Tuesday at Central Middle School, 725 Seventh St. in Columbus.