Batons and Ballots

Musicians and audience members will help choose new director/conductor

By: Margaret Butler

John Young Shik Concklin is among the finalists for Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra’s new music director/conductor. He will lead New Beginnings on May 21.
Photo by David Huff

With a lift of the baton — or three — Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra hopes to conclude its two-year search for a new music director/conductor this spring. Three talented conductors, narrowed down by the HSO search committee, will take the podium, each vying for the role. The stakes are high, as the decision lies heavily in the hands of the musicians and audience members, who will provide written feedback after each concert. 

“The seemingly unconventional search process to find a conductor is, in fact, quite normal,” David Huff, co-chair of the search committee (along with violist and board member Emily Poole), confirms. The committee has followed the League of American Orchestras’ search process to a tee. Made up of local musicians and members of the orchestra, board members, and staff, the committee has reviewed more than 50 applicants from America and beyond. And now, after countless evaluations to consider and pandemic-related hurdles to surmount, HSO has introduced the final three prospects for the role. 

Yuriy Bekker, Timothy Verville, and John Young Shik Concklin all hope to impress Hendersonville audiences with their respective style, personality, and musicianship. To add to the pizzaz, each conductor will invite a guest musician to join them onstage. 

The board deeply values guidance from the orchestra musicians to make the decision. “Although we have a deep appreciation for music, many board members might not know if the interpretation of the score is correct, for example,” Huff explains. But audience rapport is still crucial for the position; the HSO has a fiercely loyal membership who love to laugh and be engaged. 

“Hendersonville is one of the smallest cities to have a professional orchestra,” Huff points out. It’s down the road from Brevard College, which hosts a renowned classical-music festival in the summer. Charleston, South Carolina, where Bekker is currently head of the city’s orchestra, is only a few hours’ drive from Hendersonville, and so is Atlanta, home to Verville, head of the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, and Concklin, who leads the Atlanta Music Project and Spartanburg, South Carolina’s Piedmont Chamber Orchestra. This concentration of award-winning leadership likewise creates a pool of exceptionally talented musicians.

Additionally, the culturally rich Henderson County area boasts a plethora of arts organizations and music venues. The new music director will have an opportunity to explore the beloved classical canon while tapping into the area’s regional mountain music. 

Huff invites the community to help shape the future of the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra. The search committee is confident that each candidate would introduce an exciting new direction. The selected music director will lead the orchestra into its 50th season in the fall of 2022. 

“The decision may be difficult,” says Huff. “We’ll see.”

Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra’s three-concert series began on March 19 (Yuriy Bekker) and will continue Saturdays with 7:30pm concerts on May 7 (“Insurmountable Odds” with Timothy Verville) and May 21 (“New Beginnings” with John Young Shik Concklin) at the Blue Ridge Community College Concert Hall in Flat Rock. Tickets are $45/adults, $12/students. Feedback slips will be given out following each performance. For more information, call 828-697-5884 or see 

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