Spokane Symphony Announces Five Finalists for New Music Director

Monday Mar 5, 2018 • Press Release

Candidates will conduct classics concerts during the 2018-19 season.

SPOKANE – March 5, 2018…The Spokane Symphony Board of Trustees and Symphony Executive Director Jeff vom Saal, announced that five finalists have been chosen for the Music Director position that will be vacated when Music Director Eckart Preu concludes his 15-year tenure at the end of the 2018-19 season. 

The five finalists, chosen after an extensive, four-month-long international search that attracted 188 applications, include three U.S.-based conductors and two who are currently based overseas. The five finalists are listed below in alphabetical order:

Arthur Arnold  Dutch-born conductor Arnold is in his seventh season as Music Director of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, conducting the Master Series in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. Maestro Arnold is also the Music Director and conductor of the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA) Festival on Canada’s west coast, co-founding the festival in 2012. Select international young conductors study with Arnold, both at PRISMA and in master classes with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Arnold studied conducting with Anton Kersjes and Hans Vonk and received additional training from Marcello Viotti, Jean Fournet and Graeme Jenkins. He studied at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy with Myung-Whun Chung and Gianluigi Gelmetti, and with Jorma Panula and Diego Masson. Arnold will conduct the Spokane Symphony on March 23-24, 2019 for Classics 8.

Rei Hotoda – Hotoda, the newly appointed Music Director of the Fresno Philharmonic, was the former Associate Conductor for the Utah Symphony, a position she held from 2015-17. From 2009-12 she held the Assistant Conductor position for the Dallas Symphony. Her repertoire spans the masterful staples of the classical canon to works by the leading composers of today, and she is equally at home leading the orchestra from the piano as well as from the podium. Hotoda studied conducting with Gustav Meier at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the Eastman School of Music. Hotoda will conduct the Spokane Symphony on March 9-10, 2019 for Classics 7.

James Lowe  Lowe is Chief Conductor of the Vaasa City Orchestra, Finland. He was one of five conductors featured in a documentary about the Sir Georg Solti Conductors’ Competition, Conduct! Every Move Counts, which was shown at the Spokane International Film Festival in 2017. A recipient of the Bernard Haitink Fund for Young Talent, Lowe is also Principal Conductor of the Edinburgh Contemporary Music Ensemble and held the positions of Principal Conductor of the Preußisches Kammerorchester and Associate Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Educated at the University of Edinburgh, Lowe continued his development as Benjamin Zander Conducting Fellow with the Boston Philharmonic and with Jorma Panula, Neeme Järvi, Bernard Haitink and Valery Gergiev. Lowe will conduct the Spokane Symphony on February 16-17, 2019 for Classics 6.

Morihiko Nakahara – Nakahara first joined the Spokane Symphony during the 2003-04 season as Associate Conductor. This season marks his 15th with the Spokane Symphony, serving as Resident Conductor for the past 10 years. The 2017-18 season also marks Nakahara’s 10th as Music Director of the South Carolina Philharmonic. He also serves as Director of Orchestral Studies at UMass Amherst. A native of Kagoshima, Japan, Nakahara is known for his charismatic presence on and off the podium, innovative and audience-friendly programming skills, and thoughtful interpretations of both standard and contemporary repertoire. Nakahara holds degrees from Andrews University and the University of Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music. Nakahara will conduct the Spokane Symphony on October 6-7, 2018 for Classics 2.

Jayce Ogren  A native of Washington State, Ogren was named the new Artistic Director of Orchestra 2001 in Philadelphia in 2016, and was the Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director of the Cleveland Youth Orchestra from 2006-2009. With Orchestra 2001, he leads staged performances, such as Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King at the Philly Fringe Festival, and Steve Mackey’s Slide, in Princeton at the Sound Kitchen.  As an opera conductor, Ogren has led Britten’s Turn of the Screw, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Bernstein’s A Quiet Place, and more. Ogren’s work in contemporary music includes leading The Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, projects with ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) at Lincoln Center, at the Wien Modern Festival, and concerts with the New York Philharmonic’s CONTACT! and BIENNIAL series. Ogren received a Bachelor’s Degree in Composition from St. Olaf College, and a Master's Degree in Conducting from the New England Conservatory. With a Fulbright Grant, he completed a postgraduate diploma in orchestral conducting at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm where he studied with Jorma Panula and spent two summers at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen. Ogren will conduct the Spokane Symphony on April 13-14, 2019 for Classics 9.​


“We are thrilled that our Music Director search resulted in five highly qualified conductors whose musical experiences have graced concert halls around the world.  We look forward to introducing the finalists to Spokane and evaluating their performance with the orchestra as they conduct five classical concerts in the 2018-19 season,” vom Saal said.

The Spokane Symphony’s Music Director Search Committee is comprised of six members of the Board of Trustees and six orchestra members. Board members include Russ Lee, search committee chair and board treasurer, Lorrie Scott, board president, Elizabeth Kelley, board vice president, Michael Ebinger, board vice president, Venice Cohen and Jacob Reidt. Musicians include Bruce Bodden, principal flute, Roberta Bottelli, cello, Emily Browne, principal horn, Ross Holcombe, principal trombone, Stephen Swanson, double bass, and Earecka Tregenza Moody, principal harp.

Executive Director Jeff vom Saal is extensively involved as a non-voting participant on the search committee, along with Spokane Symphony General Manager Daniel Cotter, and Concertmaster Mateusz Wolski. 

The search process involved reviewing resumes, letters, and performance videos from all 188 applicants, and then narrowing the field to 50.  After reviewing application materials again, the pool was narrowed to 22, from whom the committee requested programming materials, along with rehearsal and introduction videos. The committee carefully considered the additional material submitted by each applicant, and then chose 11 semi-finalists for Skype interviews. After interviews, the committee agreed on five finalists.

Each finalist will conduct one of the Spokane Symphony’s 2018-19 classics concerts (the season starts in September 2018 and ends in May 2019). Candidates will rehearse and conduct the orchestra, meet with staff, members of the Board of Trustees, and a wide variety of community residents who are connected with the Spokane Symphony.  As mentioned in each of the biographies, the conducting dates are:

  • Morihiko Nakahara:  October 6 (8 pm) and 7 (3 pm) 2018, Classics 2
  • James Lowe:  February 16 (8 pm) and 17 (3 pm) 2019, Classics 6
  • Rei Hotoda:  March 9 (8 pm) and 10 (3 pm) 2019, Classics 7
  • Arthur Arnold:  March 23 (8 pm) and 24 (3 pm) 2019, Classics 8
  • Jayce Ogren:  April 13 (8 pm) and 14 (3 pm) 2019, Classics 9

Music Director Eckart Preu has planned the 2018-19 season, and will conduct the other five classics concerts:  Classics 1, 3, 4, 5 and 10.

“The 73rd season of the Spokane Symphony promises to be an especially exciting and memorable one, as we celebrate and say farewell to our beloved Maestro Eckart Preu and experience performances conducted by our five outstanding Music Director finalists,” said Lorrie Scott, president, Spokane Symphony Board of Trustees.

For more information, please contact Alison Highberger, Public Relations Manager, Spokane Symphony, (509) 842-2943 (cell),

About the Spokane Symphony:

Now in its 72nd season, the Spokane Symphony continues a long tradition as the largest and most active professional performing arts organization in the Inland Pacific Northwest. It was incorporated in 1945 as the Spokane Philharmonic, and became the Spokane Symphony Society in 1962. The 70-piece professional orchestra performs for more than 150,000 listeners each season and provides a wide variety of educational experiences. From its historic, Art Deco home, Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, the Spokane Symphony presents critically acclaimed performances featuring outstanding guest artists. The orchestra is led by Music Director Eckart Preu, who is in his 14th season in 2017-18. He is assisted by Resident Conductor Morihiko Nakahara and Assistant Conductor Jorge Luis Uzcátegui. 


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