Finalists for Lafayette Symphony music director, conductor announced
LAFAYETTE, Ind. − Three finalists have been named to fill the shoes of Maestro Nick Palmer, who announced in March 2022 that the 2022-23 season would be his final as music director and conductor of the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra.
A search committee − assembled by the LSO administration and composed of staff, board members, orchestra musicians, patrons and community partners − selected three finalists to become the next music director and conductor. After a 6-month international search process with nearly 200 applicants, the committee selected finalists Kalena Bovell, Kelly Corcoran and Kellen Gray.
As part of the process, according to a release, each candidate will curate and conduct a concert during the symphony's 2023-24 season.
Meet the finalists
The following biographies are taken verbatim from the symphony's announcement:
Critics praise Panamanian-American conductor Kalena Bovell as “one of the brightest stars in classical music.” (Channel 3 News, Connecticut). Named a 2022-2024 Award Recipient of the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship, Bovell’s singular imprint on the arts distills into two values: community engagement and musical excellence, employing these values as Assistant Conductor to the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony.
In recent years, Bovell has led numerous marquee performances, including at the BBC Proms with the Chineke! Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Kennedy Center’s “Reframing the Narrative” with the Collage Dance Collective in Kevin Thomas’s “Firebird”. Reviewing her BBC performance, “ArtsDesk” stated simply: "Never let her go." She is also quickly becoming a mainstay on the North American festival circuit, conducting at the Summer Orchestra Institute at New England Conservatory, and the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in 2022. Since making her professional debut as the Chicago Sinfonietta’s Assistant Conductor in 2016, invitations as guest conductor have included Hartford Opera Theatre and New Britain Symphony.
A Los Angeles native, Bovell received a Master of Music and Graduate Performance Diploma in Orchestral Conducting from The Hartt School, where she studied with Edward Cumming, and holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the College of the Performing Arts at Chapman University. In addition to conducting, Bovell is a published author, releasing her first poetry book titled “Dear Soul...” in 2009. She has increasingly interwoven her poetry with her music career, collaborating with Rob McClure’s Conductor Cam series in 2020 to perform her poem “Tethered Voices,” set to music by James Lees III and performed by the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra.
Named “Best Classical Conductor” by the Nashville Scene, Kelly Corcoran is Artistic Director & Conductor of Intersection, a contemporary music ensemble now in its 9th season in Nashville. Corcoran founded the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted the Nashville Symphony in hundreds of performances for nine seasons as Associate Conductor and Director of the Symphony Chorus. She has guest conducted many major orchestras including The Cleveland Orchestra, the Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and National Symphonies and orchestras in Argentina, England, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, Mexico and Chile.
A graduate of Boston Conservatory and Indiana University, a proud alum of the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship, the New World Symphony and the Lucerne Festival with Pierre Boulez, her primary mentors are Leonard Slatkin and Marin Alsop. Additionally, Corcoran is on the music faculty at Middle Tennessee State University and Lipscomb University and is proud to serve on the Advisory Council for Music Makes Us (supporting music education) and Nashville’s Health Equity Workgroup. Corcoran recently completed her Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Behavior from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is interested in the role of the arts in building health in our communities. She currently is a Social Scientist working at the Music Cognition Lab at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Corcoran is also passionate about exploring innovative models for making and sharing classical music.
Scotland-based American conductor Kellen Gray has earned a reputation as a versatile and imaginative artist through his diverse array of traditional and experimental programming, thrilling performances, and provocative multimedia concert experience curation. Gray is the current Assistant Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (UK) and Associate Conductor of the Charleston Symphony (USA). Prior to his current appointments, Kellen completed respective tenures as Assistant Conductor of Chicago Sinfonietta and the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra.
“The Scotsman” gave Gray’s Royal Scottish National Orchestra subscription debut 4-stars. Of the same performance, “Vox Carnyx: Scotland’s Voice for Classical Music and Opera” reported, “he unfolded the smooth, mellifluous contours with patience and understanding.” Gray’s 2022 debut album, “African-American Voices” with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Linn Records received 5-stars from “Pizzicato” (UK); “Kellen pays attention to the minute details of Still's warm score, while he revels in the romantic outbursts and continual changes of pace that shake up Dawson's “Negro Folk Symphony”,” stated “Musikzen” (France).
His recent and coming conducting endeavors include: the Philharmonia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra(USA), English National Opera, Chineke! Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Mozart Players, Spoleto Festival USA, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Philharmonic, Northwest Florida Symphony, and Savannah Philharmonic.
For more information about the finalists or upcoming events, visit www.lafayettesymphony.org or call 765-742-6463.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Finalists for Lafayette Symphony music director, conductor announced