The second of three finalists competing to become the next music director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra will be at the podium Wednesday, when the orchestra tackles Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 at Merrill Auditorium.

Ken-David Masur, associate conductor of the Boston Symphony, will lead the orchestra through the Brahm’s masterpiece and return to Portland in January to conduct a pops program of songs from Oscar Award-winning movies.

Masur, 40, who lives in Newton, Massachusetts, conducted as a guest in Portland a few years ago, and found both the orchestra and the city welcoming and friendly. So much so, he nearly missed his flight home.

“I remember giving a talk-back after my concert, and the driver had to cut the talk short because I would have missed my flight,” he wrote in an email. “But I immediately thought, I can’t wait to return and continue the conversation and the dialogue, both musically and verbally, in Portland.”

Masur is auditioning to replace Robert Moody, who will complete his 10th season as music director and conductor of the PSO in spring 2018. The other finalists are Eckart Preu, music director of the Long Beach and Spokane symphonies, who auditioned in September and will return March; and Daniel Meyer, music director of the Asheville Symphony and the Erie Philharmonic, who will conduct twice next spring.

Masur has the highest profile of the finalists. In addition to his position with the Boston Symphony, he formerly conducted the San Diego Symphony and also leads the New England Conservatory and the Boston University Symphony orchestras, and serves as artistic director of the Chelsea (New York) Music Festival. He is the son of the late Kurt Masur, who served as music director of the New York Philharmonic and principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

His job with Boston entails conducting several concerts each season as well as summer concerts at Tanglewood. He also serves as “an extra set of ears” to music director Andris Nelsons. “I’ve witnessed work behind the scenes of the orchestra, including the role of the management, board, development, library and other essential parts of an organization. All of which is extremely helpful in understanding what makes the performances that will move an audience and that will connect a community,” he wrote in an email.

As a finalist for the job of music director in Portland, Masur was asked to program the music for Wednesday. He chose Brahms, he said, “because it’s for me the deepest joy to share and explore with the orchestra his visions of the key of C-minor. Brahms’s melodies, harmonies and powerful sounds, because of their ability to hit us in the heart, mind and souls all at the same time, is something for any conductor and musician to look forward to as an event, a moment to be thankful for life.”

The concert also will feature the Tannhäuser Overture by Wagner and Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with guest pianist Ran Dank.

Masur’s goal if hired in Portland is to uphold the orchestra’s level of artistic excellence “and play a leading role in making music accessible to all and a necessary source of the quality of life and community,” he wrote. “I have seen and experienced firsthand how music will completely transform the morale, imagination and dialogue of an entire community or city, especially when it’s not merely treated as entertainment or a commodity.”

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

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Twitter: pphbkeyes