By JESS MANCINI
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — A new artistic director for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra was announced on Tuesday.
“I’m so excited to be here,” said Lawrence Loh.
Loh is the residential conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He received an artist diploma in orchestral conducting in May 1998 from Yale University.
He was among the six final candidates reviewed to succeed Maestro Grant Cooper, who is retiring after 16 years at the symphony. Cooper announced his retirement in 2015 and his last show was a March 19 concert in Parkersburg.
A committee chaired by Cindy McGhee conducted an international search for a successor. More than 160 applications were received, which were pared down to the final six.
“We met six extraordinary candidates and we had a very difficult decision to make,” said McGhee, vice chairman of the symphony board.
The announcement was made at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston and included Education Secretary Gayle Manchin, Division of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith and John Elliott, chairman of the symphony board of directors. A reception was held after the press conference.
The other five final candidates were:
Koyoka Dan, conductor and music director for the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera.
Keitaro Harada, associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Dan Meyer, music director of the Asheville Symphony and the Erie Philharmonic,
Stilian Kirov, an assistant conductor of the Seattle Symphony.
Kevin Rhodes, music director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
The final six conducted performances of the West Virginia Symphony in the review process.
“I’m very pleased,” said Mary Ann Osborne with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra-Parkersburg.
The symphony’s reputation is among the reasons Loh accepted the job, she said. He loves West Virginia and is looking forward to moving here, Osborne said.
“And the musicians liked him, too,” she said. “And that’s very important.”
The first year will be a transition period for the new conductor, Osborne said. Loh has commitments in Pittsburgh and elsewhere that he must keep, she said.
The period will include guest conductors and Cooper will be part of the transition, she said.
The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra was created in 1939 in a partnership with the chemical companies in Charleston. The first show was Sept. 19, 1939, as the Charleston Civic Orchestra under the direction of William R. Wiant.
Other conductors included Antonio Modarelli, Geoffrey Hobday, Charles Gabor, Charles Schiff, Ron Dishinger, Sidney Rothstein, Thomas Conlin and Grant Cooper. Conlin became conductor laureate.
The organization changed its name to the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra in 1988.
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