The Portland Symphony Orchestra’s search for a music director got a little more complicated on Monday with the news that PSO assistant conductor Andrew Crust has accepted the assistant position with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra – the orchestra that hired the PSO’s outgoing music director Robert Moody.

That means that Moody and Crust will both depart Portland after the 2017-18 season for jobs in Memphis. It also means that in all likelihood the Portland orchestra will be without both a music director and an assistant during the 2018-19 season. Four finalists to replace Moody will conduct in Portland in the coming season as part of the orchestra’s audition process, and it’s unlikely the orchestra will have someone in place before fall 2018.

The orchestra won’t begin searching for an assistant conductor until it hires a replacement for Moody, said PSO executive director Carolyn Nishon. She also said the turnover in the artistic leadership will not affect the quality of the music or programming.

“For each of our music director candidates coming in the 2017-18, we are currently asking about their availability for 2018-19 dates,” Nishon said Monday. “This is done so that the winning candidate will be featured in the 2018-19 season as music director designate. Our goal is to ensure that while the 2018-19 will be the music director designate year, the new music director of the Portland Symphony will have a Maine presence.”

In addition, the orchestra will hire guest conductors for its PSO Discovery and youth concerts beginning in 2018. Those duties traditionally have fallen to the assistant conductor. “We will ensure that these concerts are led by excellent guest conductors who specialize in this type of performance,” she said.

Crust joined the orchestra last fall.

The four finalists to replace Moody are Ken-David Masur, assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony; Daniel Meyer, music director of the Asheville Symphony; Alexander Mickelthwate, music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; and Eckart Preu, music director of the Spokane Symphony. Each candidate will conduct one classical concert and two pops concerts during the upcoming season.

Moody, who will have served the PSO for a decade by the time he departs, will conduct five concerts during the season. Moody’s final concert will be May 11, 2018, when he conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, also known as “Resurrection.”

Crust will conduct the majority of the PSO Discovery and Youth concerts for the 2017-18 season. As assistant conductor in Memphis, Crust will run the Memphis Youth Symphony and conduct a classical concert.

Moody served as conductor in Memphis on an interim basis beginning in October 2015, and signed a six-year contract that begins with the 2017-18 season in the spring. He will work in both cities in the upcoming concert season, a practice that is not uncommon in the orchestra world today.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes

filed under: