Other Voices: The hunt is on for a new MIM maestro | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: The hunt is on for a new MIM maestro

Those who follow our local arts scene are aware that, after 27 years of being the artistic director leading Music in the Mountains, Paul Perry will be retiring on August 1, 2008. The question on many folks’ minds is, “Who will follow in our maestro’s footsteps and how can we select the best person?”

To accomplish this almost impossible task of replacing Paul, the MIM Board of Directors appointed a blue-ribbon search committee. This group of ten includes members of the MIM Board, musicians and community leaders. The chairman of that Committee, Wayne Pittenger, has asked me to report on our progress to the community.

At the end of 2006, we advertised the position opening to the worldwide artistic community via the Internet and trade publications. We held our breath and were then deluged with applications … within the two-month application period, we received 116 inquiries from all over the United States and Europe!

A thorough review of these hundreds of pages of resumes and letters of interest allowed us to narrow that field down to about a dozen highly qualified candidates. We then conducted conference call telephone interviews, made reference checks and viewed videos submitted by these “short list” candidates. This enabled us to further refine our selections to a handful of semi-finalists.

Throughout this winnowing process, every single candidate was given equal, thorough, thoughtful and exhaustive consideration. Today, our remaining candidates are truly the cream of the crop. Their talent, experience and personalities are simply astounding. Yes, it’s getting pretty exciting!

Before I go on to our next steps, I want to acknowledge the members of the search committee for the hundreds of volunteer hours they have given to this effort thus far. Our goal has always been to find the absolute best candidate for Paul’s successor” a great conductor who has fabulous rapport with the orchestra, a superlative musician, a team player, a wonderful public speaker, and someone we will be proud to have representing us in the community.

This quixotic quest has made for many spirited discussions that have miraculously resulted in consensus every step of the way. It has been a pleasure and an honor working with them all.

So, now that we are down to a select few, what can our community expect to happen next?

Next year (August 2007 through July 2008) will be Paul Perry’s spectacular final year at Music in the Mountains. We are determined not to overshadow his glory with “successor selection fever.” Paul will be the sole occupant of our podium, working his magic, while the Search Committee continues to work in the background refining and distilling our candidates down to the finalists. I’m not going to steal Paul’s thunder, but I’m betting he’s planning to pull out all the stops for a fabulous farewell season.

In the Fall of 2008, we will begin an exciting year of guest conductors at MIM. Each of the finalists will appear in a variety of concert situations, including the Fall and Spring Fests as well as the Summer Festival. This will give everyone ” board, musicians, audience and investors ” ample opportunities to meet and observe the candidates.

Our musicians will get to work with the finalists, our audience will see them in concert, and we will offer many occasions for our board, staff and major donors to meet them personally. All the while, we will be actively soliciting your input through surveys and interviews. During these visits, we will also be doing our best to sell these

wonderfully talented musicians on our little corner of paradise!

After the 2009 SummerFest and everyone’s input has been considered, the search committee will make a recommendation for the Music in the Mountains Board of Directors to make a final selection. If everything works as planned, we will have a new artistic director at the helm of Music in the Mountains ready to kick off an exciting inaugural season for FallFest 2009!

Now, we certainly could have elected to follow a less rigorous strategy. But this is simply too important a decision to take the easy road – we have to take the right road. We owe it to our entire Music in the Mountains family to spare no effort in selecting a suitable successor to Paul’s legacy.


Terry M. Brown is a founder of Music in the Mountains and its executive director for the first 18 years. He serves on the Board of Directors and the artistic director search committee.

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