Huw Edwards, Maestro for the Olympia Symphony Orchestra (OSO), is making a departure after 17 years. The symphony is a collection of local artists who enjoy taking the classics and not so well-known collections and working them into a local, live experience for the audience to breathe in and enjoy. Maestro Edwards has brought to the community a wide variety of musical journeys from formal to fun.
“Although I have several years remaining on my contract, I have decided to make the 2019-20 Season my last one as the conductor of OSO,” says Edwards. “I have enjoyed 17 memorable and varied years with OSO, having won the audition in 2003. I have liked calling Olympia my home since 2006 — but I want to spend more time with my ailing parents in my native Isles.”
Jennifer Hermann, executive director of the symphony, and a classical pianist chamber musician, has worked with Edwards for many years as a colleague. “Huw is an icon in the community and has a huge personality,” she says. In 2015 Hermann played as a soloist with the symphony and sings praises upon Edward’s as a top-notch conductor. “Huw leaves very big shoes to fill.”
With a great deal of community support, and many talented musicians, the symphony is sitting in a good place. After seventeen years with Edwards, OSO is playing exceptionally, sounding fantastic and Edwards says he likes to think it has improved during his tenure. “However,” he says, “it is time for someone else — a fresh voice with different tastes. I shall miss the audience here, and plan on working hard to make this Season a great one with our appealing programs and wonderful soloists.”
Edwards remarks, “I am not sure if there is ever a right time to leave…but there is definitely a wrong time to stay; how I live is more important than what I do.”
As for finding a new conductor, the search has been extensive. After putting out a public request, OSO has received applications from around the world. The Pacific Northwest is the place to be and Olympia is known for being open minded and very supportive of the arts.
A committee of 14 — made up of six orchestra members, four board members and four community members — has poured through applications for consideration. Four finalists are to be selected, each assigned with a concert for the upcoming season. The finalists will also take part in community events.
Hermann says, “This isn’t just a job, it’s an experience. The chemistry has to be right for members, donors, volunteers, sponsors and the community.” Indeed, the symphony was founded in 1947 and Edwards is the sixth conductor. A decision will be made after OSO’s season has ended and the community will gain a new conductor. Everyone agrees, there will never be another Huw Edwards. He will be greatly missed.
The Olympia Symphony Orchestra
3400 Capitol Blvd. SE, Suite 203, Olympia
Maestro Huw Edwards
Executive Director Jennifer Hermann
Monday – Thursday 9:30am-2:30pm
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