After a rather lengthy search, we announced the appointment of a new Concertmaster today. New York based Yosuke Kawasaki will assume the post beginning in September, and I think he’ll be a great fit. He plays extremely musically, has excellent technique, and has a very calm temperment that will suit the orchestra well. The actual press release can be found here.
So, how does one find a Concertmaster? I’m glad you asked.
For our search, we drew up a list of possible candidates. We got names from the Music Director, from musicians in the orchestra, and recommendations from noted figures in the industry. We also posted the vacancy on-line, placed ads and received applications from a number of players. The search included Canadians, violinists from major U.S. orchestras, and one candidate from the U.K.
Over the past few seasons, we had about 20 musicians audition for the position. Each candidate led the orchestra for two or three weeks, and the top candidates played an hour-long recital for the full orchestra. The recitals were pretty exhausting as the candidates had to play some solo Bach, a couple of movements from major concertos, and six or seven orchestral solos, all in front of the full orchestra. The level of playing overall was phenomenal – we heard some great players. It really makes you appreciate the quality of the top-level orchestral players out there.
An interesting fact – Yosuke is only the second Concertmaster in the orchestra’s history. Walter, his predecessor, led the orchestra for the first 38 years and had a huge impact on the development of the orchestra. It’s a hard act to follow, but I’m sure Yosuke will be up to the task.