Seattle, WA – Seattle Symphony is pleased to welcome 17-year-old conductor Alexander Prior to an unprecedented Chairman's Fellow position, Assistant to the Guest Conductors.
Prior, who is rapidly becoming known in the international music world, will play an essential role in assisting the many high-profile guest conductors coming to Seattle from January through July, 2010 as part of the Music Director Search.
The Chairman's Fellow position was created by Board Chair Leslie Jackson Chihuly, who remarked, "We are thrilled to have such a promising young conductor as Alex Prior joining our conducting team. His work will be an asset to us, and we look forward to nurturing his artistic development."
Although Prior's role as "cover conductor" is behind-the-scenes, he will play an important role on the Seattle Symphony's conducting staff by being prepared to step in at a moment's notice if a guest conductor is unable to conduct a rehearsal or performance. Serving on the conducting staff of a major orchestra is a key professional development opportunity for young conductors, although most are not given the opportunity at such a young age.
Prior has already conducted major orchestras in Europe and Russia, but this position with Seattle Symphony is his first professional appointment. Prior has been selected as one of only 12 participants in this February's International Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in Bamberg, Germany, the very same competition in which Gustavo Dudamel first came to international prominence. He was Runner-Up in the 2009 Leeds Conductors Competition, and additional conducting engagements include an April 2010 performance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Barbican in London, and a Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood Music Festival during the 2010 festival.
In the UK, Prior has conducted The National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North and Northern Sinfonia, among others. He also has conducted the New Opera Orchestra at the Kremlin and The State St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra.
Prior is known to television audiences in the UK following a commission by Channel 4 to compose and conduct the premiere of a concerto featuring extraordinarily talented young musicians. The three-part TV series was broadcast on primetime television in 2009. Prior has been awarded the Patriarch of Russia's Cultural Award for his musical projects that bring culture to disadvantaged children, and he has received the Blue Cross Order for his work in the arts.
Alexander Prior has completed his fourth year at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, with distinction. He is a great-great-grandson of Constantine Stanislavsky, the famous Russian theatre reformer and founder of "method acting."
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer
Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.
Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer
For over 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me--point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.
For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, as of right now it comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio High Current preamplifier, AVA FET Valve 550hc or Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst
I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.
It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.
When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.
So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio
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