Maestro makes an abrupt exit

Maestro makes an abrupt exit


norman lebrecht

August 24, 2016

When an orchestra and a music director tire of each other’s company, they usually announce the parting of ways with expressions of mutual regret at a date two or three years down the road.

In Augusta, Georgia, they have no patience for such courtesies.

An official news release said that ‘after seven seasons leading the Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Maestro Shizuo Z Kuwahara is leaving to pursue other opportunities’.

His departure is ‘effective immediately’.

shizuo kuwahara


The maestro said: We have made many great accomplishments together, and I want to sincerely thank you for making my 7 years of directorship such a fruitful experience. I am confident that the organization is in good hands with the wonderful board, staff members, and especially the talented musicians playing in the orchestra. I hope to see great things from the orchestra as the symphony moves into the Miller Theater and beyond. Enjoy the wonderful season coming up, and I hope to see you again soon!’

Shizuo is a past winner of the Solti conducting competition.


  • Michael Klotz says:

    I was privileged to work with Z during our student days at Eastman. We did Mahler 5 and it was one of his first concerts as a conductor. Well, we thought he was tremendous and inspiring!

  • Steve from Augusta says:

    Several musicians in the orchestra have indicated he will not be missed. My few interactions with him have reinforced the impression that he talks a fine game, but beyond vision there is little substantive action.

  • Ben Harrison says:

    It was truly a pleasure and honor to have worked with Meastro Kuwahara. He reinvigorated my love of music and the passion to share the art form in our community.

  • Ruth says:

    Folks….the instrumentalists and the Augusta keepers of the culture will continue their commitment to the health of this small orchestra; That includes hundreds of instrumentalists per season driving for pennies to play a few services per season without any financial or other career incentive to move to Augusta. Do not read so much into this…. a maestro choosing to move on –with any amount of notice—from such a small plate for himself, the musicians and the community is not a red flag; all will continue in Augusta GA whoever is on the podium. Remember, please, that the SOA has not had salaried musicians for many years now….not a budget crises decision but a shift of priority. Without paying (small) salaries to resident instrumentalists the SOA had more dollars available to play mileage to per-service musicians. Do your homework on the history of the SOA/Augusta Symphony and the Central Savannah River Area: this is not another State of the Economy and Culture Death Knell .