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James Lowe is the new Music Director of the Spokane Symphony

Tuesday Jun 25, 2019 • Press Release

British conductor will be the 8th conductor in the Symphony’s 74-year history.

SPOKANE—June 25, 2019…The Spokane Symphony announced today in a press conference that British conductor James Lowe is the new Music Director and Conductor of the Spokane Symphony, effective July 1, 2019, on a three-year contract.

Lowe, 43, was selected after an extensive, two-year international search. The Spokane Symphony’s Board of Trustees confirmed Lowe recently, acting on the recommendation of the organization’s 12-member Music Director Search Committee, consisting of six orchestra musicians and six board members.

“I am delighted and thrilled to be appointed the new Music Director of the Spokane Symphony. It’s extremely rare to find an orchestra that has all the stars aligned: the superb musicianship of the players, the wonderful hall, the energetic and entrepreneurial management, and the support of a loyal and engaged public are all rare elements in themselves—to find them all in one orchestra is hugely exciting. It’s a real honor to be selected to inherit the legacy of Eckart Preu, and I look forward to getting to know the orchestra and the Spokane community in the years to come,” Lowe said.

Born in Nottingham, England and currently residing in Edinburgh, Scotland, Lowe is also Chief Conductor of the Vaasa City Orchestra in Finland. He previously held the positions of Associate Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chief Conductor of the Prussian Chamber Orchestra in Germany, and worked as Orchestras Advisor to the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland.

Lowe began playing the viola as a child, and went on to graduate from the University of Edinburgh with First Class Honours in music. He was subsequently invited by Benjamin Zander to be the Zander Conducting Fellow with the Boston Philharmonic, and was a recipient of the Bernard Haitink Fund for Young Talent, working as Assistant Conductor to Bernard Haitink with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. 

Lowe has conducted orchestras all over the world, including engagements with the Osaka and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestras, the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, Scottish Ballet, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, plus numerous other ensembles in Europe, South Africa and the United States. 

In addition to his conducting work, Lowe is active as an educator and teacher of conducting, and is researching ways in which orchestras can meaningfully engage with a wider public.

“James is an extremely talented and passionate musician and conductor. Our search attracted many qualified candidates, which we narrowed down to five remarkable finalists. We know that James will connect strongly with our community, and we’re excited for what the future holds for the sound of the Spokane Symphony,” said Russ Lee, President of the Spokane Symphony Board of Trustees, Chair of the Music Director Search Committee and First Interstate Bank’s Executive Vice President for Special Projects.

Commenting on behalf of the musicians, Spokane Symphony Concertmaster (lead violinist) and Music Director Search Committee member, Mateusz Wolski, said, “We definitely had wonderful chemistry with James. He has worked with some amazing artists, and there’s a tremendous amount of experience that he brings to the table. We got the sense that James doesn’t conduct music for himself; he’s playing music so that the musicians connect with each other, and so that the audience can be part of our community, marveling in the beauty of what we do,” Wolski said. 

Lowe is the Spokane Symphony’s eighth conductor in its 74-year history, taking over after Music Director Eckart Preu ended his 15-year tenure with the organization last month.

“In James, we have found the ideal Music Director to succeed Eckart’s enormously successful tenure. In James’ conducting week in February, he gained immediate traction with the orchestra on a musical and emotional level, resulting in their strong support of him as our next Music Director. James is everything we were looking for in the artistic leader of our organization.  He’s thoughtful, has had a prodigious musical career, both as performer and conductor, and has an affable way about him. We have fallen in love with James Lowe, and know our community will too,” said Spokane Symphony Executive Director Jeff vom Saal.

About the Search:

In October 2017, the Music Director Search Committee, consisting of six musicians and six board members began their work. They evaluated 188 applications from candidates around the world, narrowing the pool to five finalists. The finalists, Spokane Symphony Resident Conductor Morihiko Nakahara, James Lowe, Rei Hotoda, Arthur Arnold and Jayce Ogren, came to Spokane last season for a full week of activities, interviews and rehearsals, which culminated in conducting a Classics concert. Each finalist was evaluated by the orchestra musicians, Spokane Symphony Chorale members, Spokane Symphony Associates, board, staff, donors and patrons. 

What’s Next—The 74th Season Begins in September

Lowe will begin his tenure as Music Director of the Spokane Symphony with the 2019/20 season opener, “Masterworks 1: American Rhythms,” on September 14 and 15 at Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. He will also conduct Masterworks concerts 2, 6, 8, 9 and 10 during the ten-concert Masterworks (formerly known as “Classics”) season. 

About the Spokane Symphony:

Now in its 74th season, the Spokane Symphony was incorporated in 1945 as the Spokane Philharmonic, becoming the Spokane Symphony Society in 1962. The 70-member professional orchestra is the heart of a non-profit organization (with a $6 million yearly budget) that owns and operates Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox.  The Spokane Symphony believes that orchestral music nurtures the human spirit, enhances the quality of life, and is integral to the preservation and development of culture. The Spokane Symphony is dedicated to providing high quality, professional orchestral performances and education to the Inland Northwest for the purpose of enriching and transforming lives through music. The orchestra performs for more than 150,000 audience members each season.

NOTE to MEDIA:  

  • James Lowe will throw out the first pitch at the Spokane Indians baseball game on Thursday, June 27 at Avista Stadium at 6:30 p.m.
  • James Lowe’s website is: http://www.james-lowe.co.uk
  • Information about and tickets for the upcoming 74th season of the Spokane Symphony that starts in September are available at:  www.spokanesymphony.org 

For questions and interviews, please contact Spokane Symphony Public Relations Manager, Alison Highberger, (509) 842-2943 (cell), alisonhighberger@spokanesymphony.org

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