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Kingston Symphony has found a replacement for long-time conductor Glen Fast, who has held the position for the past 23 years, and will continue on as conductor emeritus.
Evan Mitchell, 34, is a fresh new direction for Kingston’s orchestra, and he brings both experience and enthusiasm to one of Kingston’s most important cultural institutions.
Winner of the Jean-Marie Beaudet award for orchestral conducting, Mitchell studied with Maestro Raffi Armenian. He has also worked as Assistant Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony orchestra, where he led the VSO in more than 100 concerts over a three-year period, and most recently with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra.
Mitchell has also taught extensively with student musicians of all ages and has worked as an adjudicator, coach, and guest speaker. He is an award-winning percussionist both home and abroad.
KWSO director, Edwin Outwater shared his enthusiasm this morning writing “Very Proud of our Kitchener-Waterloo assistant conductor Evan Mitchell!”
Mitchell begins his three-year term on September 1st, and plans to start by seeking to engage a younger audience for the aging orchestra.
In an article published on March 6th, Mitchell shared some of his ideas to help update the performance model of the symphony.
“There is a tendency for us to — I’ll admit, in the orchestra business — to canonize the traditions,” explained Mitchell, who didn’t take his first music lesson until he was 16.
“While that’s an important part of it, life did not end 200 years ago and we’re not just repeating the same cycle. I think social media and digital initiatives — more video, more media, more podcasts, more new sorts of things — they’re really important to just be able to not only gain the interest of younger people, but people who feel like there’s a barrier in coming to orchestra concerts and want to have that torn down. “We’re going to try some of these things to see what works, to see what doesn’t,” he said.
“Every community is different, every audience is different, and I have a whole lot of ideas up my sleeve about digital projection during the concerts, the possibility of that sort of stuff with the (soon-to-be-opened) Bader Centre is very exciting.”
Another idea is to use texts sent to smart phones to supplement the performance onstage, much like MTV’s “pop-up video” show used to do, displaying background information about the video.