In Thursday’s (5/14) Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia), Walt Amacker profiles Mark Russell Smith, who is wrapping up his ten-year tenure as music director of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. “As he prepared to conduct his last concerts this weekend after 10 seasons as music director of the orchestra, Smith recalled taking over a group that was in a state of flux. … The change Smith was referring to included a buyout of a number of orchestra members who some management personnel thought had passed their musical primes and were being asked to move on. The situation is remembered in different ways, depending on whom you talk to, but it still meant that the orchestra was in the midst of change. ‘I was in the position of being able to hire a number of great new orchestra members,’ Smith said. ‘And the talent level of musicians out there looking for work was—and is—extremely high.  … The Richmond Symphony is a gem.’ ” The closing of the orchestra’s home in 2004 for renovations meant that it has been performing in churches and other venues throughout the community. The orchestra will move into the Carpenter Theater at the Richmond CenterStage performing arts complex next season.

Posted May 15, 2009