World-renowned conductor Loris Tjeknavorian has signed a three-year contract to be principal conductor and music director of the Glendale Symphony Orchestra.
The announcement was made during a fundraising gala reception and concert Saturday evening at Lexus of Glendale.
"I'm very excited," Tjeknavorian said. "We will start with four or five good concerts, and hopefully we will grow to be known as the cultural center of the United States and the world."
Symphony President Glenn Treibitz said he was thrilled to announce the signing to the crowd of more than 200.
"And it was thrilling to see the reaction of the audience," he said. "They stood up and cheered. We have a superstar conductor and composer."
The reception began with hors d'oeuvres, wine and champagne as guests socialized and classical music students from Glendale High School's Advanced Music Program performed on a white baby grand piano. Then an ensemble group comprising musicians from the Glendale Symphony performed selections from Mozart and Bach led by associate conductor Jeffrey Bernstein.
Tjeknavorian conducted the final piece, his own composition, and dedicated it to those who died during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Board member Fran Buchanan said the real challenge for the new conductor is bringing programs that satisfy many musical tastes.
"I hope we can lean toward being a more pops orchestra as we were in our history when we performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion," she said.
During that time they were selling out all 3,200 seats. But the board thought it should move the symphony to the Alex Theatre to save money and draw more local residents to the concerts, but it didn't, she said.
"The programs have to be like it was today," Buchanan said. "They have to play what people want to hear."