Virginia Native auditions for musical director of the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra

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

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

Music director and songwriter Michael Butterman is the latest 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 Hwy.

Butterman is currently the Music Director of the Boulder Philharmonic, the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Philharmonic. He was also the former associate conductor and resident of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Florida for fifteen years.

He gained national recognition as a Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the past decade, Butterman has succeeded in making the Boulder Philharmonic not only an orchestra in Boulder, but the best orchestra in Boulder.

As guest conductor, Butterman has also conducted many prominent ensembles in the country, including the Cleveland
Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony. He is also a regular guest of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC

“Broadening the audience or opening up classical music to a non-traditional audience was at the heart of my position in Rochester,” said Butterman.

Butterman said fostering an orchestra’s identity and connection to its community is another trait he would bring to the WSO if chosen as a new musical director.

He also noted that the ability to view concerts online now helps attract more audiences to orchestral concerts.

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

Butterman, who grew up in Virginia, said part of what prompted him to audition for WSO’s 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 bring onto stage next weekend.

“Anyone with any level of 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 have 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 this was someone I wanted to bring to Williamsburg.”

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

“The Vaughan Williams and Elgar pieces 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 the WSO website.

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