By Daniel Buckwalter

The dance card is set to find a successor to Francesco Lecce-Chong as the artistic director and conductor of the Eugene Symphony Orchestra.

The names of five finalists were revealed to the audience at the symphony’w concert on March 14. All will take a turn at the podium with the Eugene Symphony during the 2024-25 season, vying for the role of the Eugene Symphony’s ninth artistic director and conductor.

Each certainly would bring an international flavor to the position.

First to the podium will be Alexander Prior on Oct. 24, conducting work by Antonín Dvořák. Prior is a British composer and conductor who studied at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in Russia. He was chief conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Alberta, Canada, from 2017 to 2022, appointed at the age of 23.  (He also reportedly is known to be an avid fan of country music.)

Next up is Farkhad Khudyev, who was born in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, where he first studied violin, piano and composition at the State Music School for gifted musicians. He currently serves as the music director of the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and assistant professor of music in Orchestral Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Khudyev will lead the Eugene Symphony in works by Pyotr Tchaikovsky on Nov. 21.

On Dec. 12, Rory Macdonald will appear, conducting works of Sergei Rachmaninoff. Born in Stirling, Scotland, Macdonald studied at Cambridge. Afterward, he was appointed assistant conductor to Iván Fischer at the Budapest Festival Orchestra (2001-03) and to Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra (2006-08). His guest conducting engagements have included the London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestra.

Tania Miller, a Canadian who grew up in Saskatchewan in Canada, is the fourth candidate, and she will lead the symphony on Jan. 23 through the works of Jean Sibelius. In October 2023, she was appointed artistic director and conductor of the Brott Music Festival and its two national Canadian training programs, the National Academy Orchestra of Canada and BrottOpera. She is currently music director emerita of the Victoria Symphony.

The fifth and final candidate is Taichi Fukumura, a rising Japanese-American conductor acclaimed for his dynamic stage presence and musical finesse. Currently serving as assistant conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, he will conduct the symphony in works by Johannes Brahms on Feb. 13, 2025.

Lecce-Chong, who becomes the artistic partner and conductor of the Eugene Symphony for 2024-25, will open the Eugene Symphony season on Sept. 26 and in 2025 on March 20, April 24 and May 22..