A unanimous choice for music director

A unanimous choice for music director


norman lebrecht

June 08, 2017

It’s rare for an orchestra to agree on anything without a single dissenting voice.

Donald Munro tells us that in Fresno, which yesterday appointed a music director, Rei Hotoda was the unanimous choice among six candidates both of the orchestra’s board and of its musicians’ search committee.

That augurs well for Fresno.

Donald was laid off last month after 16 years as arts writer for The Fresno Bee. He has started his own blog here. Please share this link among friends.

He’s too good a writer to lose.

Here’s a sample:

On a crisp Sunday in March, the final notes of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 floated into memory at the Saroyan Theatre. The audience broke out in tumultuous applause. Four standing ovations followed. Many people in the audience at the Fresno Philharmonicconcert, including me, had just come to the same conclusion: Rei Hotoda nailed her audition.

That premonition was confirmed today when the orchestra announced that Hotoda is the eighth music director (and first woman) in Fresno Philharmonic history. Her name was revealed at a standing-room only event at Pardini’s.



  • Graeme Hall says:

    “floated into memory”?? Good writing?? Not sure about that.

  • May says:

    Kudos to Ms Hotoda. But…..
    Not to sound like a hater, but isn’t it a given that the candidate who gets to conduct Tchaik 5 would cinch the job? Just sayin’….

    • Kman says:

      But wouldn’t she have had a say in what was programmed that evening? If so, other candidates could have programmed similar show pieces.

      Candidates at the recent search in Oklahoma City had some say, and the “unanimous choice” programmed a pretty uninspiring evening (whereas another candidate programmed Shostakovich 5).

    • Bruce says:

      Not necessarily. My orchestra has had at least one music director candidate who requested to conduct a certain piece and was refused.

  • Simone says:

    About 10 years ago I took part in a conducting masterclass with the Staatskapelle Weimar. Rei was among the participants. The program of the final concert included Don Juan, a piece those musicians are very proud of, Strauss having written it for the Staatskapelle itself. They couldn’t find any of us who could meet their standard for this piece and they were considering canceling it. On the last rehearsal day Rei gave it a go. The orchestra was skeptical (mostly because of her small figure), but she conducted with such energy that at the end the concertmaster jumped up saying “She can do it, she’ll conduct Don Juan tomorrow!”
    I’m so glad she’s getting more and more recognition.

  • Gerald Martin says:

    I hope the other five finalists were quietly informed before the “standing-room only event.”