No stranger to bucking tradition when it comes to conductors, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has granted both of its staff conductors the same title of resident conductor.Lawrence Loh.
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The orchestra recently promoted associate conductor Lawrence Loh, joining Daniel Meyer in the resident conductor position.
Typically, the PSO has two staff conductors. But they tend to have differing experience levels and differing levels of workload, with titles to reflect that. In the case of Loh and Meyer, the PSO feels both are able to handle the increased duties of the resident position.
"Dan and I work really well together," Loh said. "It has never felt like one was in training and one expert. We both know how to handle the job. It has been nice to have two people who know the position like we do."
But the doubling of titles also stems from necessity.
Both conductors now have active careers outside the PSO. Loh is music director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, based in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Meyer is music director of the Erie Philharmonic and the Asheville (N.C.) Symphony Orchestra.
Having two resident conductors helps to ensure that the PSO will have at least one at all times. With the volume of nonsubscription concerts and the constant threat of a guest conductor canceling due to sickness or other reason, it's a necessity to have one of the two staff conductors at the ready.
"It actually will work out quite well, as the concerts of our orchestras are at different times," said Meyer. "We will split the duties about 50-50."
Loh, whose experience includes being a staff conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, was hired as a PSO assistant conductor in 2005. He assisted the titled and guest conductors and led the orchestra in community, educational and Fiddlesticks concerts. He was promoted to associate last year.
"Larry is a very fine young conductor," said Larry Tamburri, president of the PSO. "He has already had good experience in Dallas, Every year here he has done more work [here]. The orchestra likes working with him. He is going to be a very successful conductor."
For Loh, continuing to hone his craft with the Pittsburgh Symphony is thrilling enough, but he also loves the fact that he is connected with an orchestra he followed while growing up in Carlisle, Cumberland County.
"It feels like a vote of confidence from the orchestra and staff," he said. "I am really enjoying working with the orchestra. We have been talking about me hanging around for a while."
Honeck replaces Levine
Incoming Pittsburgh Symphony music director Manfred Honeck will replace James Levine to open the Verbier Festival this week in Switzerland. Levine, music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Boston Symphony, canceled because of ill health, and organizers of the prestigious event invited Honeck to lead the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra at the opening concert Friday and in another concert Sunday.
Post-Gazette classical music writer Andrew Druckenbrod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1750.