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After a yearlong search, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra has announced that Ron Spigelman, currently associate conductor of the Buffalo (NY) Philharmonic, has been named the new Music Director of the Symphony, effective July 1st, 2004. He beat out five other candidates for the post. Here are the comments he made at the press conference on May 5, 2004, introducing him as the orchestra's choice.
REMARKS BY RON SPIGELMAN, NEW SPRINGFIELD SYMPHONY MUSIC DIRECTOR, AT HIS INTRODUCTORY PRESS CONFERENCE WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2004
I just want to first of all say thank you so much for choosing me! I mean, this has been a tremendous thrill. I found out the day before my birthday last week, and I feel like I've been having a birthday for a week now. It's a wonderful privilege. I feel that as a conductor and as a Music Director, it's not a position of power'it's a position of privilege. And I now have the privilege of coming into this community'a thriving community, growing community'to help it grow further in its artistic goals. I believe a city is judged on its artistic merit when people think of how healthy a city is. And I believe that this city is a very healthy one indeed with the support that the gets, and the arts in general. And I am looking forward with my wife Lisa, my two children Elijah and Noah, to move here'not this coming summer, but the next summer  when my contract runs out in Buffalo . I've informed them already that I'm not going to renew there because I'm moving to Springfield , Missouri , and I cannot be happier about that. We are tremendously excited to be able to have the opportunity to bring up a family here, and become active members of the community'not just as the symphony conductor, but I want to be fully engaged in everything that goes on here. I feel that if you equate a symphony such as this one to a sports team'I've conducted this symphony and I can tell you right now that if you buy a ticket to this, you're buying a ticket to a team that will never, ever, lose a game! It will always have a winning record, and I think there is some real potential here in making this'something that has always been great'even greater still. And so I want to thank Guy [Mace, Springfield Symphony Board President] and Carlana [Fitch, Symphony Executive Director] and the Board, and everybody involved in the search, for choosing me. I plan to make sure that you never regret that decision! So thank you again for this opportunity. It's going to be my great pleasure to come here and work with your wonderful orchestra and be in your city.
Guy Mace: Any questions?
KWTO Reporter: First off, Ron, why Springfield ?
Spigelman : Well, in my position with the Buffalo Philharmonic, there happens to be a flute player there by the name of Betsy [ Thurmon ] Reeds. Betsy is from Springfield . And this job came open, and I went up to her and I said, "Betsy, I know you're from Springfield . This job's come open'tell me about Springfield ." And she told me that if you have a young family, then this is one of the best places you can bring them up. She said it's an orchestra that she played in as a student and as a professional. She said it's a wonderful orchestra in a wonderful place, in a wonderful hall. There's a lot of enthusiasm, the city loves the arts. And it's a city that's growing, that's vital. And if you were going to move somewhere from Buffalo to become a Music Director, she said Springfield would be a great choice. And so, that's why I even applied. I thought, "You know what? If somebody speaks that highly of a place, I think I need to go and check it out." And so I came here in January, and I was very open and honest, and I said, "I'm gonna check this place out." And I went, I got with a realtor, we went all around the city. Guy took me around HIS version of Springfield , Carlana HER version of Springfield (chuckle). And so I saw Springfield through many different peoples' eyes, and I saw all the things that are offered. I saw the nature, I saw the entertainment, I saw the school system, the parks. And I thought , this is a wonderful place to be. And it's also very close to Texas where we have a lot of friends. And I thought, " you know, this is a perfect move' IF it works out." And so I told the Board before I left, and told the audience, "Thank you for welcoming me into your home' I hope one day it can be my home." And I was sincere enough to say to you that yes, we're moving here, and we can't wait!
I subsequently found out, also from Betsy, that the Symphony is made up of musicians who largely live in the city. I also knew, and found out more, about the SMS Music program, and the fact that they have nearly 30 full-time faculty members in their Music Department. That said to me that there are fine musicians who live here and work here professionally already. And I knew from talking with Betsy about the [Juanita K. Hammons] Hall being a "REAL" hall. And what I mean by that, it's not a high school auditorium; this is a real performing arts center. It said to me that this symphony really has a lot going for it without me even hearing it. And I have to pay some respect and homage to the previous Music Director, Apo [Hsu], and with the quality of her work. I don't think she would have been here as long as she was if it was not a good situation musically. And so I've sort of been grateful to her that she kind of made it grow into a wonderful team of musicians. Also, the fact that there is a history with the American Symphony Orchestra League, [that the Springfield Symphony was] one of the founding members of the ASOL, and this is a very important thing and also gives the orchestra a lot of recognition in the orchestra world.
Randy: This is not your first Music Director position' San Angelo , Texas was.
Ron Spigelman : Correct.
Randy: But this is still a big difference from what you've been doing in Buffalo .
Spigelman : Yes, it is. In Buffalo , as Associate Conductor, my main area of responsibility has been conducting. And I actually do more than double the amount of concerts that the Music Director and the Pops Conductor do, combined' ...' cause 70 concerts a year is a LOT ! However, in my capacity as Associate Conductor, I've also been involved with the Marketing Department, with fundraising, public speaking and engagements, as well as work in the schools. I get involved in extra charity work: I'm particularly involved with literacy, which is very important to me. And so, I have been involved in all these extra aspects of the job, not just conducting. And I feel I can bring these skills here, which of course I honed also in San Angelo , Texas , because I was the Music Director there. And I'm happy to say that that's an orchestra that increased its attendance by 45% in three years, and they're still going strong. I always hope that any place I go, that I can create a situation in which I leave it thriving. And I think this place is wonderful, because it already is [thriving]. And so now, I feel as though it's a limitless possibility, because now it's all about even better quality, and even more concerts, and even more ways to reach people with music.
I'll be starting as Music Director on July 1 st . And what that will involve in the first year is'
Spigelman : A lot of commuting. However, I've assured the management as well as the Board that I'll be fully engaged no matter where I am. Thankfully these days, with e-mail and cell phones and faxes, communication is very easy. But I've also pledged that we're going to come here for two weeks in the summer, as well as the fact that I will try and be here for the whole week of a concert, so that I will be engaged in any fundraising activities and promotional events during that week. And if there is a chance to come in on other occasions, I'll make sure I make that happen.
Randy: Will they be cu
tting down your workload in
Spigelman : Well, yes. They are allowing me some extra time to start this position. They are thrilled for me that this has happened'it also, of course, makes them look good that their Associate Conductor is now becoming a Music Director. JoAnn Faletta , the [Buffalo Philharmonic] Music Director, is very supportive of me there, and is very excited about this happening for me'and is even stepping in herself to do a concert for me so I can come down here one of the weeks!
Unidentified reporter: Now, only occasionally in the wintertime do we get more than a foot or two of snow. Will you be able to get used to that? ( laughter )
Spigelman : Somebody said to me as a joke'this is in the middle of winter'they said, "You know, I'm gonna drive south (and they've got a snow plow on the front of their truck), and the first place where they say to me, ...'What's that on your truck?'' THAT's where I'm moving!" ( laughter )
I look at it this way. I have to say I've enjoyed my time in Buffalo . It's a wonderful city'it's full of character, incredible architecture and wonderful people. But there is six months of winter a year, and that can get quite harsh! Although, I have to tell you my seven-year-old son, he may be a little upset that there won't be as much sledding in Springfield . However, he loves animals, and I see that there's plenty of those around here we're going to be able to see. And we're members of the Zoo up there and we'll plan to do the same down here. And I think that's a wonderful tradeoff: to get rid of those long winters is fine by us!
We have a very exciting [04-05] season planned. I want to tell you that we're bringing the great classics here. Next year, just to give you a sneak preview, we're going to do Brahms' 2 nd Symphony; we're going to do Sibelius ' 2 nd Symphony; we're going to do Beethoven's 7 th Symphony. These are all great masterworks. We're also going to do Ravel's "Bolero", which has not been done here in a very long time, and a favorite of many people. We are featuring David Hays, the concertmaster, in a solo performance of the Lalo "Symphonie Espagnole ." And we're going to do a wonderful bluegrass pops [concert] in May . I should tell everybody that I'm a bluegrass fan! Even though I'm a symphony musician through and through and a classical music lover, I see the virtuosity in mandolin playing and bluegrass, and so I'm excited to be able to do a concert with a bluegrass theme. In Buffalo ... bluegrass is NOT real big. In fact, "NO-grass" is there, for about six months a year! ( laughter ) So we're going to bring some of the favorites back and we're going to create some new favorites for the audiences here. And I do have the feeling that when I come in here, this is not "my" orchestra. It's my job to make it Springfield 's orchestra, and it's important for the community to know that it is theirs.
So I'm very honored for this opportunity, and will put 110% effort into everything I do here. I want to try and do more programs where I'm out in the community more as a representative of the Symphony, meeting people and especially engaging children, which is very important to me. My children are seven and two, and I know that when they're engaged, they're really open to learn and to understand. And I think that another key to the success of the Symphony is to be a vital part of a child's education and well-being.