New Faces and Musical Chairs at the San Diego Symphony

Sameer Patel has been appointed as the San Diego Symphony’s new Assistant Conductor, replacing Ken-David Masur, who has served as the orchestra’s Associate Conductor for the last two years. Given Masur’s prowess on the podium, it is no surprise that he has been picked up by the prestigious Boston Symphony Orchestra as their Assistant Conductor, working in Boston under Music Director Andris Nelsons.

Sameer Patel [photo (c) Arielle Doneson]

Sameer Patel [photo (c) Arielle Doneson]

Patel was chosen out of some 165 applicants for the San Diego position, which includes responsibilities to conduct both the orchestra’s Family Festival series and Young People’s Concerts.

“I am thrilled to join the San Diego Symphony as assistant conductor, and I look forward to serving both the organization and the San Diego community,” Patel stated. “One of San Diego’s crown jewels is its world-class orchestra, which is at the heart of the city’s vibrant cultural life.”

Patel comes to San Diego from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, where he spent three seasons conducting as Associate Conductor. In competitions with other aspiring conductors, Patel has done well. In 2013, he was one of only six conductors selected by the League of American Orchestras for the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, an event that showcases emerging and talented conductors to orchestra industry professionals.

And he also has the Kurt Masur connection, ensuring San Diego’s continuing link to that lofty Germanic tradition. Patel was a 2011 Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholar, an honor given to him by former New York Philharmonic music director Kurt Masur. As part of his award, Patel traveled to Europe to study with and assist Masur with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, as well as with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The San Diego Symphony has selected another candidate from the Associate Conductor auditions,

Kensho Watanabe [photo courtesy of the San Diego Symphony]

Kensho Watanabe [photo courtesy of the San Diego Symphony]

Kensho Watanabe, to be the orchestra’s Conducting Fellow, a newly created post that will allow him to observe rehearsals, conduct some of the Kinder Koncerts and work with the Symphony’s education and artistic staff. Watanabe comes from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he has studied under Philadelphia Symphony’s maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin and received his diploma in conducting.

“I am extremely grateful to Maestro Ling and the San Diego Symphony for committing to my development as a conductor. I was struck by the energy, drive and outlook of the entire organization, and I am looking forward to developing this intrepid partnership while getting to know the San Diego community.”

Not a new face, but a new honor: in May, San Diego Symphony Music Director Jahja Ling received the Ian Mininberg Alumni Award for Distinguished Service from the Yale School of Music, where he studied conducting under the legendary Otto-Werner Mueller and received his Doctor of Music Arts degree in 1985.

Maestro Jahja Ling at Yale University [photo courtesy of the San Diego Symphony]

Maestro Jahja Ling at Yale University [photo (c) Harold Shapiro]

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