10 young sticks win Solti Foundation grants

The Solti Foundation has just rolled out its 2019 Career Assistance Awards. Most already have at least one foot on the ladder.

Two are women:

– Conner Gray Covington, Associate Conductor, Utah Symphony;
– Aram Demirjian, Music Director of Knoxville Symphony Orchestra;
– Joshua Hong, Music Director of the Campanile Orchestra;
– Stilian Kirov, Music Director of the Bakersfield Symphony (CA), Illinois Philharmonic and New Jersey’s Symphony in C;
– Benjamin Manis, Resident Conductor of the Houston Grand Opera;
– Lee Mills, Resident Conductor of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, and Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony;
– Gemma New, Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Resident Conductor of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra;


– Stefano Sarzani, former Associate Conductor of the Des Moines Metro Opera;
– Stephanie Rhodes Russell, Associate Conductor of the Grand Teton Music Festival;
and Kensho Watanabe, Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

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  • Funny how most of these don’t need any “Career Assistance” at all….. If you’re a MD or work for a major US orchestra, you’re doing fine….. Looks like Solti is trying to latch onto folks who can help them, not the other way around.

    • Been like that for years – they don’t identify talent – the award for name. But agents love it, because the name “solti” means they have another line item on a biography to sell.

    • Oh, you know them? I kind of thought these young conductors see a future ahead of them and — funny me — getting recognized like this might just be a feather in their cap for looking for better positions. But what do I know.

    • Gemma New’s calendar on her website shows she conducts in front of audiences six nights a season as music director in Hamilton, which has a nine-program season and which seems to perform most programs only once. (The Bakersfield Symphony, one of Stilian Kirov’s three far-flung MD gigs, has a comparable six-concert season, one night per program.) She’s nearly done a busy season as a visiting guest conductor, but it’s still largely Christmas concerts, Star Wars with live orchestra, and pops. Maybe at 31 she still thinks she isn’t done learning. Probably most people would applaud that attitude. I’m not sure how much raw star power the Solti Foundation gets by “latching on” to New or Kirov or their colleagues. I suspect they can all use the help and are grateful for it.

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