Donald Munro

Meet Alexander Mickelthwate, the Fresno Philharmonic’s 3rd conductor candidate

Alexander Mickelthwate, one of six candidates to be the Fresno Philharmonic’s new music director, will conduct the orchestra on Sunday.
Alexander Mickelthwate, one of six candidates to be the Fresno Philharmonic’s new music director, will conduct the orchestra on Sunday. Special to The Bee

After a break of a couple of months for the holidays, the Fresno Philharmonic returns to its most important task in the 2016-17 season: selecting a new music director.

Sameer Patel visited in October and Daniel Meyer in November. Now the third of six candidates, Alexander Mickelthwate, is spending a packed week doing media interviews, rehearsing with the musicians and meeting with audience members, musicians, patrons and students. His visit culminates Sunday with an appearance at the “Words on Music” pre-concert lecture and then conducting a Masterworks concert.

Here’s a rundown on Mickelthwate:

The candidate: Mickelthwate is music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held for 10 years. He took the orchestra to Carnegie Hall in 2014 as part of the Spring for Music festival. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, he began his career in North America as assistant conductor with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and then associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Essa-Pekka Salonen.

 

Alexander Mickelthwate, the third of six Fresno Philharmonic conductor candidates, is spending the week doing media interviews, rehearsing with the musicians and meeting with audience members, musicians, patrons and students. His visit culminates Sunday with an appearance at the “Words on Music” pre-concert lecture and then conducting a Masterworks concert at Saroyan Theatre. The Bee's Donald Munro is talking to him live from one of Fresno's favorite taco shops, Taqueria El Premio Mayor.

Posted by The Fresno Bee on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Education: Mickelthwate received his degree from the Peabody Institute of Music. He studied conducting under Fredric Prausnitz and Gustav Meier as well as with Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn, Daniel Barenboim and Robert Spano at Tanglewood.

Accomplishments: He helped create Sistema Winnipeg after guest conducting the Simon Bolivar Orchestra and “experiencing the life-changing power of the Sistema program in Venezuela for underprivileged children,” according to his website. Single ticket sales at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra have risen by 63 percent and season subscriptions by 42 percent during his tenure.

Fresno program: Mickelthwate will lead the orchestra in Mason Bates’ “Mothership,” originally written for the YouTube Symphony incorporating improvised sections as well as composed music. (For the first time, the Fresno Philharmonic will include a laptop among its instrumental lineup.) The program continues with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 and concludes with Hector Berlioz’s epic “Symphonie fanstastique.”

Guest artist: Violinist Philippe Quint makes his Fresno Philharmonic debut. The Russian American musician has made seven recordings, including Grammy-nominated albums of Korngold and William Schuman Concertos.

Get to know the candidate better: Mickelthwate will join the orchestra’s Benjamin Boone in the pre-concert lecture at 2 p.m. And a post-concert reception in the lower lobby after the performance is open to all ticket holders.

Details: The concert is 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St. Tickets are $25-$79, www.fresnophil.org, 559-261-0600.

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