In Thursday’s (2/26) Lexington Herald Leader (Kentucky), Rich Copley reports, “The most recent candidate to audition for music director of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra has withdrawn his name from consideration. Alastair Willis, a Seattle-based conductor who was raised in Russia and England, conducted the Philharmonic on Feb. 13. He was the ninth, and penultimate, candidate to succeed George Zack as music director of the Philharmonic. Earlier this week, through his agent, Willis sent the Philharmonic’s executive director, Peter Kucirko, a short e-mail bowing out of the race. … Kucirko said it is not uncommon for candidates to withdraw from music director searches. Carpenter said that considering this search has been going on for two years, he is surprised only one candidate has dropped out. ‘We’ll pick from nine,’ Carpenter said of where the search stands. ‘We’re in a strong position going into the final candidate, and after that, I believe we will be able to make a great choice.’ The final candidate is Mei-Ann Chen, who will conduct the Philharmonic at 8 p.m. March 27. She is currently assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.” Chen is serving with the ASO as part of the League of American Orchestras American Conducting Fellows program.