‘By the End of ’89-'90 We’ll Have a Music Director’

For a marketing whiz like Louis Spisto, the Pacific Symphony’s new music director “is as much the product as anyone else, as the orchestra or as the music performed.” A committee of musicians, symphony staff and board members, headed by Cal State Fullerton music professor Preston Stedman, has been searching for a successor to outgoing director Keith Clark, primarily through guest performances with the symphony.

“We’ve seen four conductors this season,” Spisto said last week, “one of whom did a short stint with us. We have six more coming in. The search committee has met several times this year and has developed a profile.

"(We) have had an opportunity, obviously, to listen, visit and work with the conductors who have been here. I think it’s through those experiences that we’ve really refined the profile.

“I think it is going to be very important to this board that the conductor, the music director, takes a very active role in the community. Ideally the individual would live here, not all year, but have a home here and (it) would be also ideal if this were a major part of this individual’s artistic endeavors. I don’t think that at this point that is going to preclude any of the people we are looking at next year.


“The next thing we’ll do is hone in as we go through the fall. We’re going to zero in on two or three top candidates and start visiting them at their current place of employment, getting to know even more about them, talking to people they work with, looking at their programming over the last few years.

“We would hope that by the end of next season to be able to announce the music director who would start in 1990-91 in some capacity. The question is, how quickly and how many weeks that individual could give in ’90-'91.

“But there will be a music director in place in ’90-'91. By the end of ’89-'90 we’ll have a music director announced.”

The field looks like this:


The Front-Runners

Eight guest conductors actively being considered by the search committee.

A) Neal Stulberg, music director of the New Mexico Symphony, conducted the Pacific on Nov. 1 and 3, 1988.

B) Geoffrey Simon, music director of the Albany Symphony, conducted the orchestra in two pairs of subscription concerts, Feb. 28 and March 1, and Dec. 14 and 15, 1988.

C) Vakhtang Jordania, artistic director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Assn., led the orchestra on March 1 and 2, 1989, will conduct again Dec. 23.

D) Upcoming:

1) Lawrence Foster, music director of the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, will conduct the Pacific Oct. 10 and 11.

2) Christopher Seaman, director of the BBC Scottish Symphony, will conduct Nov. 21 and 22.


3) Carl St. Clair, assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony, will conduct Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 1990.

4) Richard Buckley, former director of the Oakland Symphony, will conduct March 28 and 29.

5) Sergiu Comissiona, former music director of the New York City Opera, will conduct May 23 and 24.

The Long Shots

Three conductors, while not “announced candidates,” will conduct the orchestra this summer and may be considered for music director “if there is a strong chemistry,” Spisto said.

A) Jorge Mester, music director of the Pasadena Symphony, will conduct July 4 and 22.

B) Kate Tamarkin, associate conductor of the Dallas Symphony, will conduct Aug. 12.

C) Toshiyuki Shimada, music director of the Portland (Me.) Symphony, will conduct Sept. 16.


Warsaw Philharmonic music director Kazimierz Kord will be principal guest conductor and music adviser for the 1989-90 season, but is not available beyond that and is not considered a candidate at this time.