Arts & Entertainment and Nonprofits

David Lockington to become music director laureate

September 28, 2012
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Following the close of the 2014-15 Grand Rapids Symphony season, Music Director David Lockington will step down from the podium.

Lockington will segue into the role of music director laureate, a first in the organization’s history.

“Following his tenure as music director, we anticipate that he will return periodically to the podium to conduct the orchestra,” said Peter Kjome, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Symphony. “We are still talking with David about what that relationship will look like following his tenure, but it will certainly involve leading the orchestra periodically, and he’s also been an exceptional leader both on and off the podium. He and (wife) Dylana are very committed to the community, so I would anticipate that some of his involvement as music director laureate will reflect that commitment to our community.

“This is a role that reflects his extraordinary contributions to the growth of the Symphony during his tenure as music director.”

Lockington will have served as GRS music director for 16 years when he takes on the new role.

During his tenure, the Symphony performed for the first time at Carnegie Hall and earned a 2007 Grammy Award nomination for its CD “Invention & Alchemy,” featuring harpist and composer Deborah Henson-Conant. It has also recorded four CDs, with the latest released internationally on the Nimbus Alliance label.

As music director, Lockington has worked to engage new and diverse audiences, efforts that have included the creation of the annual “Symphony with Soul” concert, now in its 12th year.

“I have been fortunate to have the privilege of conducting and growing with such a fine ensemble of musicians and people,” Lockington said in a statement. “Together, we have accomplished much as an orchestra. It is incredible to be part of a community that so strongly embraces the arts as Grand Rapids and West Michigan does.

“The partnership and support of so many throughout our community have allowed us to accomplish a great deal, professionally as well as personally. I look forward to continuing my relationship with the Symphony and supporting the important work that must and will continue.”

Lockington has been involved in all aspects of the organization’s operations at some level and has been actively engaged in conversations with GRS supporters.

While many symphonies have struggled during the difficult financial period, Lockington has helped the Grand Rapids Symphony continue to provide spectacular programming to the local audience, according to Kjome.

“The orchestra’s vision for the future has had a significant impact on the organization’s ability to maintain its financial strength,” Kjome said. “That helps us to sustain the confidence in the Symphony, and our decisions that we’ve made during a time of economic challenges have been guided by the value that we provide to the community. The financial adjustments that we’ve made have been made without affecting the scope or quality of our programs. In his involvement with our strategic planning committee and in his encouragement that we maintain the level of excellence in keeping the Symphony’s programs at a very high level, which in turn has helped to encourage those who care most deeply about the Symphony to continue to support the organization.”

Prior to Lockington’s departure, the Symphony will begin its search for a replacement. It will include the formation of a search committee involving members of all of the stakeholder communities, including board members, musicians and staff. Kjome said the Symphony will invite potential candidates to Grand Rapids as guest conductors as part of the search process.

“We will be looking for someone who has exceptional skills, not only on the podium but also someone who can help support the orchestra’s work off the podium -- someone who both demonstrates artistic excellence but also has a passion for community building and for helping the orchestra to deliver more value for our community in Grand Rapids.”

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