Though he’s spent the last 10 years conducting the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Robert Moody might have been just as well suited for life in the circus.

He says he savors big, energetic productions with lots of moving parts. That’s why his last performance in his final season with the PSO is also the one he’s looking forward to most. Gustav Mahler’s “Resurrection Symphony” features about 112 instruments, compared to the typical 75, plus a 150-voice chorus.

“Conductors aren’t supposed to say they have a favorite, but that’s probably my favorite,” said Moody, 50. “When I feel like I’m in the middle of a three-ring circus is when I’m happiest. To me the bigger (a production is) the better.”

After that performance, on May 1 at Merrill Auditorium, Moody said he will “disappear” so that his yet-to-be-chosen successor can take over the symphony without distraction. Moody is leaving to concentrate on his job as music director of the Memphis Symphony in Tennessee.

Besides Moody, the finalists vying to become the new music director will also conduct this season’s PSO concerts.

Moody said the PSO’s board gave him “a lot of leeway” to pick concerts for his final season in Portland. He conducted the Mahler work in 2010 with the PSO, and lots of people have coaxed him to do it again.

He’s also looking forward to his first PSO concert of the 2017/2018 season, Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” on Sept. 26. He will also be the conductor for “A Centennial Celebration of Leonard Bernstein” on Oct. 22, the annual “Magic of Christmas” shows in December, a concert of Mozart and Strauss works on Jan. 30, and “Bolero” on Feb. 11 and 13.

Moody said he decided that leaving after 10 years with the PSO made sense for him and for the organization. He said he is ready for different challenges in a different setting and thinks the PSO can benefit from a new music director with a fresh take on things.

Moody said he’s proud of efforts made during his tenure to reach a wider and younger audience. He launched a series of Discovery Concerts for families, that last about an hour and range in themes from Harry Potter books to Halloween. In one memorable Halloween concert, Moody made his stage entrance by rising out of a coffin. He also had concerts with African drumming concertos.

“I’m very proud that we were able to do those and to really reach as many people, age 4 to 104, as possible,” said Moody. “The 21st-century orchestra is very different (than in the past), and I want the average 7- or 8-year-old to think orchestras are cool.”

See the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/2018 season schedule at

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 210-1183 or at:

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Twitter: @RayRouthier