Virginia Native Auditioning for Music Director of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra

Conductor and Music Director Michael Butterman will audition as the final candidate for the new Music Director of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra (Courtesy of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra)

WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) will conclude its search for a new Music Director with a final audition before the WSO announces its new Music Director in 2022.

Musical director and composer Michael Butterman is the final WSO nominee and will audition with a Masterworks concert on Saturday, November 6 at 4 p.m. at the Williamsburg Community Chapel, 3899 John Tyler Highway.

Butterman is currently the musical director of the Boulder Philharmonic, Shreveport Symphony Orchestraand the Pennsylvania Philharmonic. He was also the former Associate Chief and Resident of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Florida for fifteen years.

He gained national recognition while serving as Senior Head of Education and Community Engagement with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the past decade, Butterman has succeeded in making Boulder Philharmonic not just an orchestra in Boulder, but the best orchestra in Boulder.

As a guest conductor, Butterman has also led many top ensembles in the country, including the Cleveland
Orchestra
, Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestraand Houston Symphony Orchestra. He is also a regular guest at National Symphony Orchestra to John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

“Expanding audiences or opening up classical music to non-traditional audiences was central to my position in Rochester,” Butterman said.

Butterman said fostering an orchestra’s identity and connection to its community is another characteristic he would bring to the WSO if selected as its new music director.

He also noted that the ability to view concerts online now helps to attract more spectators to orchestra concerts.

“If there’s anything we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that digital accessibility is also really key,” he said. “The ability to stream a concert from your home, or get it later on demand, certainly removes a barrier to concert attendance.”

Butterman, who grew up in Virginia, said part of what made him audition for the WSO music director job was being able to come to the historic Triangle.

“My experience in Boulder gave me a sense of unique small towns,” he said.

His ability to connect with traditional and non-traditional audiences is something he hopes to convey on stage next weekend.

“Anyone with any experience can have a perfectly wonderful connection to this great art form,” he said. “The music we play, even though it was written 200 years ago, was written by a human being who was going through the same life experiences that we are going through today. They almost use a different language, but what is expressed is timeless and universal.

Grammy Award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey will join Butterman as a guest artist at the Masterworks Concert.

“I love collaborating with this cellist,” he said. “I knew he was someone I wanted to bring to Williamsburg.”

Described as a Franco-English connection, Butterman’s concert will see the orchestra perform Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis, Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1, Massenet’s Meditation from “Thaïs” and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

“The pieces by Vaughan Williams and Elgar are longer works held together by a thematic glue,” he said. “There is a kind of unity in these rooms.”

Tickets for Butterman’s Masterworks concert can be purchased on WSO website.

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