Symphony New Brunswick Announces Conductor Line-up for 2019-2020 Season

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Symphony New Brunswick’s coming season will welcome four women to the conductor’s podium. 

Janna Sailor is one of four women invited to conduct Symphony New Brunswick’s upcoming season. Photo:

Symphony New Brunswick has announced the names of guest conductors for the Orchestra’s 2019-2020 season.  Six of the seven guests are candidates under consideration to fill the vacant Music Director’s position.

The Symphony announced a search for a new Music Director last November and received over 50 applications.  Reid Parker, president of the Symphony, said the work of picking the best candidates has been assigned to a five-member search committee headed by the Symphony’s Concertmaster, David Adams.

“It’s been an interesting and challenging job so far,” said Adams. “All of the applicants are highly educated and many have extensive conducting experience.  Although six have been selected for 2019-2020, several more are equally qualified and we may want to consider one or more of them before making a final selection.” 

Geneviève Leclair

Geneviève LeClair of Montreal will conduct three concerts of Camerata New Brunswick in October at venues yet to be confirmed.  Ms. LeClair holds a Doctorate in Musical Arts from Boston University and has guest-conducted the National Ballet of Canada and several major symphonies in Canada and the United States, including the Winnipeg Symphony, the McGill Chamber Orchestra and Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean. 

Later in October, the full symphony will be conducted by Calgary-based Janna Sailor in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton. Sailor is the founder and Music Director of the Vancouver-based Allegra Chamber Orchestra, Canada’s first all-female professional orchestra.  In addition to her appearance with SNB, she also has guest appearances in 2019-2020 with Symphony Nova Scotia and with the Regina, Winnipeg, Kingston and Saskatoon Symphonies. 

Mélanie Léonard

For the Symphony’s Christmas tour in December, Kevin Mallon of Toronto will be directing.  Mallon has had an extensive conducting, performing and teaching career, most recently as Director of the Toronto Chamber Orchestra with whom he has made a number of classical recordings for the well-known Naxos label. 

Nadège Foofat will conduct the full symphony in an April three-City tour.  Foofat is a Canadian living in New Hampshire.  Most recently, she was assistant conductor to Kent Nagano at the Hamburg State Opera. Nagano is known in Canada as the Music Director of the Montreal Symphony.  Foofat recently appeared as a guest conductor with Symphony Nova Scotia and the Winnipeg Symphony and has also conducted the Toledo and Nashville Symphonies and Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Camerata New Brunswick will be on stage again in early May with former Nova Scotian, Martin MacDonald directing.  This will be the second opportunity for symphony fans to see MacDonald conduct.  He will have directed the Symphony’s tour in April, 2019 featuring the popular “Jeans ‘n Classics” showcasing the music of ABBA. 

The final three-city tour of the full symphony will be directed by Mélanie Léonard.  This will also be Léonard’s second appearance with SNB.  She conducted the orchestra last October in a concert with a British theme with guest cellist Shauna Rolston.  This time, it will be an all-Beethoven concert in honour of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

This season features an impressive number of women leading the orchestra – the most in a single SNB season.

“It has only been in recent years that women have begun to make their mark in what used to be a male-dominated profession,” said Adams. “Several major orchestras are now led by females and we were pleased with the number and quality of the applications we received from women.  However, gender will not be the determining factor in who wins the job.”

Adams also said that the Symphony will welcome comments from audience members as they see the contenders perform. 

“We want the process of hiring a new Music Director to be as transparent and inter-active as possible.  We want everyone to be happy with the selection and all comments will be considered by the search committee and the Board of Directors.”

Symphony New Brunswick Inc. operates the Province’s only full-scale, full-season professional symphony orchestra as well as Camerata New Brunswick, a 20 member professional chamber orchestra.  The Company also hosts the Saint John String Quartet and Ventus Machina of Moncton.

The Symphony’s full season announcement is expected in May.

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