By Daniel Buckwalter

Changing times mean being busy all the time. Just ask the Oregon Mozart Players.

OMP has settled on three finalists for the artistic director position to succeed Kelly Kuo, who held the post for 12 years. Kuo’s final concert was May 11 at the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall.

The final-round selection process is being billed by the Mozart Players as the “Artistic Director Festival.” There will be three concerts in the fall, and each of the finalists will get a turn at the podium to lead the musicians. It will be a fair competition in the sense that each of the three finalists will conduct partly from the same sheet music.

That will be the third movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, and guest violinist Sunmi Chang will showcase her talents at each of those performances.

It all starts on Oct. 5 when Kevin Fitzgerald comes to town to conduct Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and David Lang’s Sweet Air as well as the Mozart violin concerto.

Fitzgerald comes originally from Brighton, Michigan, and is wrapping up his second season as the associate conductor of the Jacksonville (Florida) Symphony. In 2023, Fitzgerald won the Special Prize for the Best Performance at the Mahler Competition.

Following that concert, David Amado takes his turn at the podium on Oct. 19 as the second finalist. Amado will lead the players  through Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 and Arvo Pärt’s Frates as well as the Mozart violin concerto.

Amado has been the music director of the Delaware Symphony since 2003, and in 2016 he began a second tenure as director of music at the Atlantic Classical Orchestra in Florida. He cut his teeth as a conductor with an apprenticeship at the Oregon Symphony.

The third finalist, Kellen Gray, comes to Eugene on Nov. 23 to lead OMP in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2, Adolphus Hailstork’s Symphony No. 1 and, of course, the Mozart violin concerto.

Gray, a South Carolinian now based in Scotland, is wrapping up his first season as associate artist of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, a role that has seen him conduct, curate and present programs alongside that orchestra’s series offerings.

All three concerts will be at Central Presbyterian Church at 555 E. 15th Ave. in Eugene.

In the interim, Oregon Mozart Players now has an interim artistic director, Daniel Cho, will lead the group during its year of transition. Cho was appointed music director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in 2023, but he has deep ties to Eugene. He has been the assistant conductor of the Eugene Symphony Orchestra as well as the conducting fellow of Eugene Ballet and Orchestra NEXT.

Cho’s first concert with Oregon Mozart Players will be the Candlelight: Glow program on Dec. 20 and 21 at Central Presbyterian Church.

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