The Final Five conduct Beethoven – A Five Concert Series


We are so excited to introduce you to our Final Five in the Music Director Search!!

The search for our next Music Director & Conductor started with 177 candidates. Now there are five. See each of them in action as they conduct a Beethoven Piano Concerto this season.

We're excited to have you join us this season for an exhilarating series featuring the five finalists for our Music Director search as they each conduct concerts that center around one of Beethoven's five piano concertos.

Click here to learn more about the Music Director Finalists concert package!

Get to know Alexander Prior

Nearly two decades into his musical career, Alexander Prior boasts critically acclaimed accomplishments, marked by collaboration, unique orchestration, and even original compositions. Growing up in Europe and with a passion for American composers alongside other greats, he passionately believes in the power of music to bring people of all backgrounds together.

Alexander Prior

Alexander Prior (b.1992) can already look back at a critically acclaimed, international career spanning over 18 years. In that time he has worked with some of the world’s greatest orchestras and opera companies.

Recent highlights have included performances with the San Francisco, Detroit, Queensland, and Houston Symphony Orchestras, the German Radio Symphony Orchestra, the German State Philharmonic (Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz), the Calgary Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid (the orchestra of the Teatro Reál), and the Brevard Festival Orchestra.

Further collaborations include performances with the Dallas Symphony, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Düsseldorf Symphoniker, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, the Spanish Radio Orchestra, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Camerata Salzburg, the Estonian and Polish National orchestras, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, and the Copenhagen Philharmonic.

Appointed as Chief Conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra at just 22 years of age, Prior invested greatly in the artistic output and community outreach of the orchestra - championing new music, with a focus on programming which reflects the rich diversity and cultural history of the region. By his third season every masters' series concert featured music by female composers.

Mark Morris, for the Edmonton Journal, wrote:

“He leaves behind a considerable legacy. First and foremost, he has brought the orchestra to a new level of playing, whether eliciting a true pianissimo from the strings, new shadings of expression and phrasing, or greater depth of emotional feeling…

… Prior knows that the best classical music is not just about entertainment, not just about him or the orchestra or the soloists, but about us all experiencing something profound about the human condition itself. And that’s the legacy of great conductors.”

Acknowledging his privilege, and amplified by his difficult personal journey as an autistic queer kid growing up in Russia, where he firsthand experienced the cruel and dehumanizing effects of bigotry, Alex felt he had a particularly strong responsibility to make sure that the orchestra he lead made all audiences truly feel safe and welcome, and that the full beautiful diversity of Edmonton’s community be represented and celebrated.

His relationship with the Edmonton Symphony is now in its’ 9th year, and Alex frequently returns to conduct concerts in Edmonton. His legacy in Edmonton also includes the orchestra’s first recordings in over 50 years, which have now had many millions of views and streams; the orchestra’s first commissions; a huge expansion of the audience’s size, diversity, and particularly the presence of young patrons; and numerous Canadian premiers - including of such composers as Sibelius, Bruckner, and John Adams.

Alexander made his professional conducting debut conducting Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera “The Tsar’s Bride” in 2007.

Operatic engagements include MIRANDOLINA at the Bayerische Staatsoper, LA TRAVIATA with Leipzig Opera, CARMEN at the Royal Danish Opera, RUSALKA at the Tiroler Festspiele in Erl, HÄNSEL UND GRETEL at Vancouver Opera, and two productions of ELEKTRA one with Edmonton Opera and the other with Theater Erfurt, where he also led a critically acclaimed production of Weingartner’s epic opera ORESTES - the first performance of this opera in well over 100 years, as well as a completely sold out production of Wagner’s THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. At Frankfurt Opera he has conducted RIGOLETTO, JULIETTA and Holst’s THE PLANETS. Following his debut with THE MAGIC FLUTE at Staatstheater Braunschweig he was invited back to conduct a new production of RIGOLETTO, after which the orchestra awarded him their prestigious and rare ‘Louis-Spohr-Medal’.

As a composer his ballet, MOWGLI, commissioned by the Russian State Ballet, was performed for the first time in 2008 (composed when he was just 13) and it has been continuously running and touring since then, with most recent performances in Amsterdam. His music has also been performed by the Royal Philharmonic, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Edmonton Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, and the BBC Singers.

Alex’s orchestration of Schubert’s WINTERREISE has been critically acclaimed (excerpts can be found on his YouTube channel) and will receive a world-premier recording in season 24/25; and he has received exclusive permission from the Sibelius family and estate to orchestrate Sibelius’ quartet “Voces Intimae”, due to be recorded this year.

At 13 Prior had enrolled at the renowned St. Petersburg Conservatory to study conducting and composition. He graduated with top honors at just 17, a feat only previously achieved once before - by Sergei Prokofiev. Alex was immediately appointed as an assistant conductor with the Seattle Symphony, and since then the Seattle area has remained his home-base.

As a conductor Prior has a broad repertoire, but with a special focus on and passion for American music, as well as the music of Wagner, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Sibelius, Saariaho, Schnittke, Janáček, Dvořák, Nielsen, Rued Langgaard, Vaughan Williams, and Richard Strauss. Alex has also been a champion of music by younger living composers - especially the music of Nicole Lizée, Gabriella Smith, Harry Stafylakis, Tanya Tagaq, Vivian Fung, and Alissa Cheung.

Alex passionately believes in the power of music to bring people of all backgrounds together, and to build compassion and ultimately a better understanding of our mutual humanity.

Alexander conducts Dvořák on October 24, 2024 - The final five conduct Beethoven ticket package now available
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Get to know Farkhad Khudyev

A phenomenal magician on the podium, Farkhad Kudyev is officially an "artist of extraordinary ability." Award-winning and internationally recognized, he was born in Turkmenistan where he first studied music at a young age and has performed for world leaders with skill, clarity, talent, and charisma.

Farkhad Khudyev

Described by the critics as “phenomenon“(Seattle Post Alley), “magician on the podium” (Performing Arts Monterey Bay), with “the ability to connect with invisible worlds and to bring them alive in the music” (Monterey Herald), Farkhad Khudyev, has been recognized by the government of the United States as an Artist of Extraordinary Ability.

Farkhad’s performances are described as “true, powerful, ecstatic and utterly riveting” (Herald), “graceful, very sensitive…” (Frankfurt Neue Presse), and “a triumph in every sense of the word” (New York Music Daily). Admired for “meticulous guidance, superb musicianship and extraordinarily imaginative interpretation” (Performing Arts Monterey Bay), Mr. Khudyev has worked with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Frankfurt Opera Orchestra of Germany, Danish National Symphony Orchestra of Denmark, Calgary Opera and Calgary Philharmonic of Canada, Seattle Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, Cape Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Yale Philharmonia, National Orchestra of Turkmenistan, George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra of Romania, State Symphony Orchestra of Azerbaijan, Xi’an Symphony Orchestra of China and the State Taipei Chinese Orchestra of Taiwan.

Mr. Khudyev is the winner of the Gold Medal “Beethoven 250” Special Prize at the 1st International Arthur Nikisch Conducting Competition; the Solti Foundation US 2022 Career Assistance Award; the Solti Foundation US 2018 Career Assistance Award; the Best Interpretation Prize at the 1st International Taipei Conducting Competition in Taiwan; the 3rd prize at the 8th International Sir Georg Solti Conducting Competition in Germany; the 1st Prize at the Yale Chamber Music Society Competition; and the Gold Medal and Grand Prize at the 2007 National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition in the US.

Farkhad has performed around the United States, Europe and Asia at world-class venues and festivals including the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy, DR Koncerthuset in Denmark, Zhongshan Hall in Taiwan, Shaanxi Performing Center in China, Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Canada, the Alte Oper Frankfurt Großer Saal and the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festpiele in Germany.

Mr. Khudyev has served as the Music Director of New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra, New Haven Chamber Orchestra, Youth Music Monterey County, as well as the Associate Conductor of the Hidden Valley Opera and the Assistant Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra in England.

Currently, Mr. Khudyev serves as the Music Director of the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and the Assistant Professor of Music in Orchestral Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as the Music Director of the Orchestral Institute at the Hidden Valley Institute of the Arts in Carmel, California.

Farkhad Khudyev was born in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he first studied violin, piano and composition at the State Music School for gifted musicians. At the age of 10, he distinguished himself as the youngest performer selected to play with the National Violin Ensemble of Turkmenistan, and toured around Central Asia and Eastern Europe. As a soloist and a member of the Ensemble, Farkhad performed for the Presidents of France, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. At the age of 12, he was chosen to represent the country at the International New Names Festival, sponsored by the Moscow Conservatory, and was named as one of the most promising young musicians at the festival.

In 2001, Farkhad came to the United States to study at Interlochen Arts Academy and then completed his Bachelor of Music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory. He received his Master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Yale University.

Farkhad conducts Tchaikovsky on November 21, 2024 - The final five conduct Beethoven ticket package now available
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Get to know Rory Macdonald

Combining intellectual rigor with passionate engagement, Rory Macdonald's wide-ranging repertoire has been met with rousing acclaim and open invitations. A Cambridge University alum, this house-filling Scottish conductor leads programs with well-known orchestras the world over, recording works along the way.

Rory Macdonald

A dynamic presence in both the opera house and concert hall, Rory Macdonald’s conducting combines intellectual rigour with passionate engagement. With a notably wide repertoire from Dowland to MacMillan, his collegiate approach has led to many successful collaborations with leading artists and production teams.

Recent highlights include La Bohème for Glyndebourne which resulted in an immediate re-invitation as well as returns to Oper Frankfurt (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Opera Theater of Saint Louis (The Magic Flute). In the last few seasons he has returned regularly to the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra amongst others, as well as making successful debuts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Romeo Castellucci’s staging of Requiem at the Adelaide Festival and Peter Grimes at the Brisbane Festival. Rory returns to the US for several symphonic debuts in the 2024/2025 season. Passionate about new music, Rory has conducted the premieres of works by composers including Sally Beamish, Sir James MacMillan, Geoffrey Gordon and Carl Vine.

Other recent symphonic engagements include the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Essen Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal, Residentie Orchestra, Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra and Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra.

Rory made his debut with Oper Frankfurt in 2018/19 with Così fan tutte and has conducted new productions of Die Zauberflöte for Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Danish Opera and Opera Australia. Other highlights include a return to Gothenburg Opera for Stephen Langridge’s production of Le nozze di Figaro; Hänsel und Gretel; Il barbiere di Siviglia (Royal Opera House); Fra Diavolo (Teatro dell’Opera di Roma); Carmen (Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera, Teatro São Carlos); Ariadne aux Naxos (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); The Cunning Little Vixen (Bergen National Opera); La Fanciulla del West (Grange Park Opera) and A Village Romeo and Juliet (Wexford Festival).

He has led many acclaimed productions of works by Britten, including new productions of Owen Wingrave and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Royal Opera House; Albert Herring for Glyndebourne; The Turn of the Screw with Mark Padmore at the Vienna Konzerthaus; A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and The Rape of Lucretia at Houston Grand Opera.

Rory’s discography includes Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with Nicola Benedetti for Decca as well as highly acclaimed discs for Hyperion, Chandos and Linn Records. Two further discs are due for release later this year with the RSNO including works by Anna Clyne and James MacMillan.

Rory studied music at Cambridge University. Whilst there he studied under David Zinman and Jorma Panula at the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen. After graduating from Cambridge, he was appointed assistant conductor to Iván Fischer at the Budapest Festival Orchestra (2001-2003), and to Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra (2006-2008). He was also a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House (2004-2006), where he worked closely with Sir Antonio Pappano on such major projects as the complete Ring cycle.

Rory conducts Rachmaninov on December 12, 2024
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Get to know Tania Miller

Distinguished Canadian conductor Tania Miller is dynamic and passionate, delivering calm intensity from the podium. Her famed visionary interpretations of the works she directs are widely praised, which she pairs with a collaborative nature and innovative approach. Tania is known for her commitment to leadership in the community and music education.

Tania Miller

Canadian Conductor Tania Miller has distinguished herself as a dynamic interpreter, musician and innovator. On the podium, Maestra Miller projects authority, dynamism and sheer love of the experience of making music. As one critic put it, she delivers calm intensity . . . expressive, colourful and full of life . . . her experience and charisma are audible.” Others call her performances “technically immaculate, vivid and stirring”.

Tania Miller has recently been named as Artistic Director of the Brott Music Festival in Canada. She is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the National Academy Orchestra of Canada and of Brott Opera. Maestra Miller’s 23-24 season includes her debut with Vancouver Opera in the production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, a concert with highly acclaimed soprano, Sondra Radvanovsky and Vancouver’s Opera West, and debuts with the Baton Rouge Symphony, Illinois Symphony, with return engagements to the Springfield Symphony, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and London Symphonia, among others. Miller served as interim Principal Conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic in the 22-23 season, and recently made her debut with the Warsaw Philharmonic, I Musici de Montreal, and the New Haven Symphony.

Miller has conducted the KBS Symphony in Seoul, and the Virtuoso Chamber Orchestra at the World Orchestra Festival in Daegu, South Korea with concerts in Daegu, Hwaseong, and Seoul. She has appeared as a guest conductor in Canada, the United States and Europe with such orchestras as the Bern Symphony Orchestra, NFM Wroclåw Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orchestra Métropolitain de Montreal, Vancouver Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec, Naples Philharmonic, Hartford Symphony, Madison Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic and numerous others. Maestro Miller was Music Director of Canada’s Victoria Symphony for 14 years, and was named Music Director Emerita for her commitment to the orchestra and community. She has distinguished herself as a visionary leader and innovator with a deep commitment to contemporary repertoire and composers and has gained a national reputation as a highly effective advocate and communicator for the arts.

Miller conducted Calgary Opera’s 2022 production of Lehar’s Merry Widow and numerous opera productions as Artistic Director of Michigan Opera Works and guest conductor of Opera McGill in Montreal. She was Assistant Conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival for four seasons, and Assistant and Associate Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony from 2000-2004. She was Assistant Conductor of the Banff Summer Festival of the Arts opera production of Michael Daugherty’s Jackie O.

Ms. Miller has a Doctorate and Masters degree in Conducting from the University of Michigan. Maestro Miller received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Royal Roads University, and an Honorary Fellowship Diploma from Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music for her commitment to leadership in community and music education. She was recipient of the 2017 Friends of Canadian Music award from the Canadian League of Composers for her dedication to the performance of contemporary music.

Tania conducts Sibelius on January 23, 2025 - The final five conduct Beethoven ticket package now available!
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Get to know Taichi

Japanese-American conductor Taichi Fukumura is known for his dynamic stage presence and musical finesse. A fierce advocate for bringing people together through the magic and spirit of live music, he has brought major innovations to his previous orchestra appointments. A cultural leader, he is passionate about community collaboration.

Taichi Fukumura

Taichi Fukumura is a rising Japanese-American conductor acclaimed for his dynamic stage presence and musical finesse. Currently serving as the Assistant Conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra appointed by Music Director Robert Spano, Fukumura is the Second Prize Winner of The Mahler Competition 2023 with the Bamberg Symphony and a three-time recipient of the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Fukumura was recently named Music Director Finalist of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and is engaged to guest conduct the ISO on two programs in the 23/24 season. Other recent highlights include international guest conducting debut with the Orquesta de Cámara de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and guest assisting the Houston Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He was also invited by the Berlin Philharmonic as one of 10 assistant conductor candidates for Kirill Petrenko and the Siemens Conductors Scholarship. Active as both conductor and assistant, Fukumura has worked with esteemed artists such as Edo de Waart, Juraj Valčuha, and Dame Jane Glover, as well as Thomas Hampson, Yefim Bronfman, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gil Shaham.

Past engagements include guest conducting members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in their Community Chamber Concert series, leading Stravinsky L’Histoire du Soldat. Fukumura served as the Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta where he previously received mentorship from Music Director Mei-Ann Chen as a Freeman Conducting Fellow. Additionally, he worked closely with the Chicago Philharmonic as cover conductor, assisting Artistic Director Scott Speck and many guest artists.

Equally adept in opera conducting, Fukumura conducted full productions of Britten Turn of the Screw and Mozart Don Giovanni at the Northwestern University Opera Theatre. As Staff Conductor at Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (the only youth orchestra in the country to present annual opera productions), he led rehearsals of many monumental works including Puccini La Boheme.

Fiercely advocating to bring people together around the spirit of live music, Fukumura is leading new initiatives with the Fort Worth Symphony and creating the first major update in their education and community programs in over a decade. An avid educator, he has previously served as Director of Orchestras at the Merit School of Music in Chicago and directed the endowed Northwestern Medical Orchestra to national acclaim within their first four years. Fukumura was appointed by the Mayor to the Evanston Arts Council for his cultural leadership and fresh perspectives, where he collaborated with local artists and arts organizations to enrich lives and amplify previously unheard voices.

Born in Tokyo, Taichi Fukumura was raised in Boston and began music studies at age three on the violin. Professionally trained on the instrument, he received a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from Boston University, studying with Peter Zazofsky. Fukumura received both his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University, studying with Victor Yampolsky. Additional conducting studies include the Aspen Music Festival conducting fellowship with Robert Spano, mentorship in Paris with Pierre-Michel Durand and l’Orchestre Prométhée, the Hong Kong International Conducting Workshops with Jorma Panula, Christoph Poppen, and Yip Wing-sie, and the Pierre Monteux School and Festival with the late Michael Jinbo. Taichi Fukumura is fluent in English and Japanese.

Taichi conducts Brahms on February 13, 2025 - The final five conduct Beethoven ticket package now available!
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