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YSO conductors in 2021-22 season vie for top post

YOUNGSTOWN — Five guest conductors who will lead the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra during 2021-22 will be considered to replace Randall Craig Fleischer as its music director.

Fleischer served as YSO’s music director and conductor from 2006 until his unexpected death in August 2020 at age 61.

Chris Jaskiewicz, vice chair of the Youngstown Symphony Society board, said, “We’re trying to see who is a good fit, to see if they align with the orchestra and what we’re trying to do with the Youngstown Symphony.”

The five guest conductors aren’t the only candidates being considered, but they are on the list, Jaskiewicz said.

The 2021-22 season will feature eight concerts at three venues — Powers Auditorium and Ford Family Recital Hall at the DeYor Performing Arts Center as well as Stambaugh Auditorium. In December, the board laid off the administrative staff at DeYor and entered into a management agreement with the staff of Stambaugh to operate the downtown Youngstown theater complex.

Miriam Burns, a visiting professor and director of orchestral studies at The Ohio State University, will conduct three of the concerts– the opening performance at 4 p.m. Sept. 19 at Powers Auditorium; 4 p.m. Jan. 16, 2022, at Ford Family Recital Hall; and 7:30 p.m. May 7, 2022, at Stambaugh Auditorium.

The other guest conductors are:

∫ John Varineau, retired associate conductor of the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Symphony, who will be joined by organist Scott Dettra at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Stambaugh.

∫ Raffaele Ponti, conductor of both the Punta Gorda (Fla.) Symphony and Paducah (Ky.) Symphony Orchestra, who will lead a holiday concert with Grammy-nominated pianist Jim Brickman at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at Powers.

∫ Carl Topilow, founding conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, who will lead a Broadway and Beyond program at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4, 2022, at Powers.

∫ Andre Raphel, who served as conductor / music director of the Wheeling (W.Va.) Symphony Orchestra for 15 years, at 7:30 p.m. March 10, 2022, at Stambaugh.

The season also includes a 4 p.m. April 10, 2022, concert at Ford Family Recital Hall with no conductor currently listed.

Using all three facilities was driven in part by necessity, Jaskiewicz said. Bookings have increased at the venues as COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. While the orchestra performed most of its concerts on Saturday evenings in the past, the upcoming season also includes Friday evening and Sunday afternoon perfomances.

The Oct. 17 concert at Stambaugh also enables the orchestra to perform with guest artist Dettra, who will use Stambaugh’s E.M. Skinner pipe organ.

Season ticket packages and single tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. July 30 at the DeYor Performing Arts Center box office, online at deyorpac.org and by calling 330-259-9651 or 330-259-0555.

“The Youngstown Symphony’s not going anywhere,” Jaskiewicz said. “We’re here to stay, and we doing everything we can to make sure that happens.”

agray@tribtoday.com

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