Marking an exciting new era in artistic leadership of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, rising star conductor Courtney Lewis has been named as the orchestra’s new music director. In his upcoming season as music director designate, Lewis is scheduled to conduct the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s opening concerts on September 26 and 27, 2014, and two more on May 14 and 15, 2015. His first full season of conducting engagements begins with the 2015-16 season.
“I thank the wonderful musicians of the Jacksonville Symphony for entrusting me with their artistic leadership. I have thought about our concerts together every day since my visit in March and I know that we will inspire each other to new heights,” says Lewis. “I’m also delighted that this spectacular Jacoby Symphony Hall will now be my home in which to make music with this great orchestra.”
Lewis is renowned for his clear artistic vision, subtle musicality, innovative programming, and deep musical understanding. He was recently appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. “Courtney Lewis emerged as a very promising future colleague as our next assistant conductor,” comments Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic. Lewis’s role in New York will be concurrent with his Jacksonville position.
Lewis is also co-founder and music director of Boston’s youthful and dynamic Discovery Ensemble chamber orchestra. David St. George, the Ensemble’s co-founder and artistic director, remarks on the alchemy between Lewis and the players of Discovery Ensemble: “He has the ability to get them to give themselves over and become an orchestra.” At age thirty, the British conductor, born in Belfast, is embark- ing on his first music directorship of a leading American regional orchestra.
For his concerts in the upcoming season, Lewis has programmed two blockbuster works that showcase the depth and power of the orchestra. He will conduct Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique this September, and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra next May. Plans for the 2015-16 season are already underway. “I’m incredibly excited about planning our first full season together, and can’t wait to share many masterpieces with you, both new and familiar,” says Lewis.
Discussing his role with the Jacksonville Symphony, Lewis says he plans to build on the achievements of outgoing Music Director Fabio Mechetti by continuing to bring the orchestra to new levels of artistic and technical excellence, and to broaden the orchestra’s repertoire. He also looks forward to leading the development of new connections between the orchestra and the Jacksonville community, by continuing to enrich the lives of concert-goers and finding new ways of introducing the power and passion of classical music to newcomers.
A passionate advocate of music education and community participation, Lewis will be a catalyst in broadening Jacksonville’s cultural landscape. “My decision to come to Jacksonville is as much about the community as it is about the orchestra, which can only exist with a strong community behind it.”
Courtney Lewis makes his debut as Jacksonville Symphony music director designate on September 26 and 27 in the Florida Blue Masterworks Series and Mayo Clinic Coffee Series. For further information, call 354-5547, or log on to JaxSymphony.org.
Article written by Paul Witkowski