The Bangor Symphony Orchestra announced Thursday morning that Lucas Richman has been named its new music director and conductor.
“I am so honored to be welcomed into the community of Bangor and to be able to take this wonderful position,” said Richman, speaking at a news conference Thursday morning at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono. “What I’m all about is making music and communicating the power of music to people. It was evident to me that this community celebrates music and art, and the musicians [in the BSO] are passionate about what they do.”
Richman was one of the five finalists who auditioned for the position throughout the 2009-10 season. BSO Vice President Joyce Clark Sarnacki, who chaired the search committee tasked with finding and selecting a new director, said Richman’s personality was a deciding factor in offering him the position — in addition to his skills as a conductor, musician, composer and educator.
“While I would say that several of the finalists were really comparable to one another in terms of many kinds of skills, what is different about Lucas is that he seemed to be the best fit in terms of personal style,” said Sarnacki, a senior vice president at Bangor Savings Bank. “He’s able to connect with the orchestra and make them passionate about playing. He’s warm and approachable, while still being candid and direct.”
Though the decision to offer Richman the job was made in a matter of weeks, the process of selection had been under way for more than a year. By the season-ending May 16 concert, the feedback data about all five finalists had been processed in such a way that all that was left to do was decide.
“I really didn’t know who I would choose going into the meeting,” said Sarnacki. “That shows just how lucky we were. I think we’d have been as happy with any of the other ones in line. We had such an incredible group to choose from.”
“It’s almost magical, in the end, to see the way it all came together,” said Samuel Lanham, president of the BSO board of directors. “Taking that wealth of data in order to make a decision that you know is right for the orchestra and for the community — I really, really mean it when I say that’s what took place here. I know we’ve made the right decision.”
The board, the staff and the many musicians who make up the BSO have expressed their excitement to begin work with Richman.
“He has a very warm and generous personality along with great musical knowledge and command,” said BSO Executive Director David Whitehill in a statement released with the announcement. “I know our orchestra, under Lucas, will respect the traditions of the past but hold the possibility of new beginnings.”
Richman will conduct four of the five concerts in the BSO’s 2010-11 season. It will kick off on Oct. 3 with a “Welcome, Lucas” concert, featuring works by Brahms, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, with whom Richman worked in the year before the great American conductor and composer’s death. The Copland piece, “Portrait of Lincoln,” will be narrated by Richman’s father, Peter Mark Richman, a well-known television actor who appeared in shows such as “Dynasty,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and “Beverly Hills 90210.”
“There’s so much we have to look forward to going into the 115th season,” Richman said. “I’ve put together a season that is very well rounded. It’s definitely a challenge on some levels. It builds on a framework of repertoire, but there’s some new pieces that audiences haven’t heard in a very long while. I’m thrilled to be able to share the stage with my father.”
The Nov. 14 concert, featuring a program of Dvorak, Sibelius and Beethoven, as well as soloist Stefan Jackiw, will be guest conducted by Edward Cumming because of a scheduling conflict with Richman’s other position as music director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra in Tennessee. The Jan. 16 program of Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff will feature soloist Martina Filjak, winner of the 2009 Cleveland International Piano Competition.
The March 13 concert will feature Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera’s “Variaciones Concertantes,” as well as Beethoven’s Symphony no. 2. The season closing concert on April 10 will showcase the University of Maine Singers and Oratorio Society performing Mendelssohn, 12th century composer Hildegard von Bingen, and a piece of Richman’s own, a gospel-inspired setting of David Psalms, “In the Day When I Cried Out.”
Richman is a man of many talents. In addition to his work as a conductor, he has composed a number of works — most recently, a setting of the poetry of children’s author Jack Prelutsky, titled “Behond the Bold Umbrellaphant,” which was premiered by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in November 2009. His commitment to education, particularly of very young listeners, is apparent in the character he created, Picardy Penguin, who appears in the animated guide to classical music he created that is shown at classical concerts in Knoxville and beyond.
“A good teacher learns from his students,” said Richman. “I have much to learn, and much to teach, with the musicians in the BSO.”
Richman was formerly the assistant and resident conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the assistant conductor for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. In addition to serving last year as a guest conductor for the Bangor Symphony, Richman has guest-conducted numerous orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Baltimore Symphony. Internationally, he has guest-conducted orchestras in Canada, Germany, Austria and Croatia.
For the past decade, Richman collaborated with a number of film composers as their conductor, recording scores for such films as the Academy Award-nominated “The Village” (with violinist Hilary Hahn), “As Good As It Gets,” “Face/Off,” “Se7en,” “Breakdown,” “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Kit Kittredge: An Ameri-can Girl.”
Before Richman takes the BSO podium this October, he’ll be busy with yet another commitment — conducting the “Star Wars: In Concert” tour. Richman was handpicked by legendary composer John Williams to head up the second leg of the tour. He will appear with the Star Wars orchestra in Manchester, N.H., on July 21.
“I found out in late April I would be conducting Star Wars, and a month later, I was offered the position with the BSO,” said Richman. “It’s been an eventful few months.”
For information on the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, visit www.bangorsymphony.org.