(CelebrityAccess News Service) – Grant Llewellyn has been named music director of the North Carolina Symphony "Grant simply captured the interest and imagination of everyone he encountered here," says David Chambless Worters, president and CEO of the Carolina Symphony. "He has the talent, the passion, the charisma, the eloquence and the vision to lead this orchestra to unprecedented new heights, artistically and organizationally."
On July 1, 2004, under a 4-year contract, Llewellyn, who is currently music director of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston and a regular guest conductor with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, will succeed Gerhardt Zimmermann, who completed a 21-year tenure with the orchestra in May 2003.
Previously assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony, Llewellyn becomes the fifth music director since the North Carolina Symphony was established in 1932. "I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the North Carolina Symphony as music director," says Llewellyn. "From the first down beat of my first rehearsal I knew the North Carolina Symphony was a fine orchestra. Everything since has confirmed and reinforced that first impression."
The appointment of Llewellyn ends a 32-month international search, which was considered unusually open, inviting audience comment and seeking input from many different constituencies. Search committee chairman, double bassist Bruce Ridge, is believed to be only the second musician to hold such a role in American orchestra history. "Our long and careful process has led us to a musician with great talent, versatility and passion," says Ridge. "The search itself has been one of the most inclusive efforts ever launched by an American symphony orchestra. The enthusiastic response from our audiences and the musicians alike towards Grant's performances with the orchestra left no doubt that we had found the right person to lead the continued artistic growth and community service of this unique and treasured North Carolina musical institution."
General Manager and Vice President for Artistic Operations Scott Freck agrees, stating, "We are thrilled to find in Grant a conductor who so perfectly matches the characteristics of the ideal candidate we set out to find nearly three years ago. His easy combination of grace, wit, and glorious music-making will greatly enhance the North Carolina Symphony's ability to deliver this majestic music to the people of this state and beyond."
Llewellyn has conducted the orchestra twice: in March 2003, he led the Symphony to critical acclaim in a program of MacMillan, Saint-Saens and Prokofiev. In November 2003, his return trip to the podium as music director finalist included works by Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Faure and Debussy. Critics and audience alike praised his "charm, humor and elegance," his "subtlety and nuance," and his "energy and verve."
"Everyone has shown a bold and flattering belief in my abilities to lead the charge," says Llewellyn, "and I will try not to disappoint. It will undoubtedly take time, much effort, talent and energy, but we will have a lot of fun along the way. That is a promise."
Llewellyn's activities as music director will include conducting as many as 40 concerts annually, providing artistic vision and guidance, planning programs and selecting guest artists and guest conductors. His first concerts as music director will be September 16-18. Says Llewellyn, "I love the fact that it is the people's orchestra — an orchestra for North Carolina and of North Carolina, which the North Carolinians cherish and respect. But it is also an orchestra going places beyond North Carolina, and this is very important for me and the musicians and management team. We are perhaps uniquely well positioned to grow together."
Worters adds, "With the opening of Meymandi Concert Hall in February 2001 and then the opening of the Amphitheatre at Regency Park in June 2001, the North Carolina Symphony has been on an upward trajectory. We believe that in Grant Llewellyn, we have a music director who will help us create America's next great orchestra." –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner