Symphony Nova Scotia announces two finalists in its search for new music director

Québec-based Jean-Michel Malouf and New Zealand-born Holly Mathieson will return to Halifax in November as part of the selection process

Jean-Michel Malouf and Holly Mathieson are the two finalists in Symphony Nova Scotia's search for a new music director. Photos courtesy Symphony Nova Scotia.
Jean-Michel Malouf and Holly Mathieson are the two finalists in Symphony Nova Scotia's search for a new music director. Photos courtesy Symphony Nova Scotia.

Following a three-year international search, Symphony Nova Scotia has announced Québec-based Jean-Michel Malouf and New Zealand-born Holly Mathieson as the two finalists in its search for a new music director.

In announcing the two finalists in a recent media release, Symphony Nova Scotia said a third finalist had recently withdrawn from the search due to personal reasons.

Michel Malouf’s career has included leadership roles with Montreal’s I Musici, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. An accomplished trombonist, Malouk has taken an active role in mentoring young musicians through camps, outreach, education, and youth ensembles.

From New Zealand, Holly Mathieson was most recently assistant conductor at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and has conducted orchestras throughout the United Kingdom and New Zealand, including the London Symphony, BBC Concert, and Royal Philharmonic. Mathieson holds a PhD in Music Iconography, and in 2016 was named one of New Zealand’s Top 50 Women of Achievement.

The search for the replacement of the Symphony’s long-time music director Bernhard Gueller began in 2016 with the search committee reviewing hundreds of candidates from across Canada and around the world.

The music director will be responsible for providing artistic leadership, conducting a significant portion of each concert season, supporting orchestra administration, and spearheading stakeholder and community engagement.

“The successful finalist will also create great musical experiences, enhance the orchestra’s artistic excellence, inspire and engage audiences, and embrace Nova Scotia’s rich cultural community,” said Symphony Nova Scotia in the release.

To help in its decision, candidates were invited to lead the orchestra during the selection process and enlisted feedback from orchestra members, the audience, the search committee, and board members.

“We were very excited by the quality of the candidates for this position, and have invited a number of talented conductors to lead the orchestra,” said search committee chair Cynthia Robertson in the release. “This feedback has proven to be highly valuable in understanding the strengths of each of these outstanding candidates, and selecting a shortlist to return in 2019.”

The two candidates will once again return to Halifax to conduct concerts as part of Symphony Nova Scotia’s Masterworks series later this year. Mathieson will conduct the Symphony on November 7 in Melody and Poetry with Rebecca Thomas, while Malouf will appear on November 21 in Mr. and Mrs. Schumann.

Along with the concerts, each candidate will participate in in-depth sessions with musicians, stakeholders, and community members before the Symphony announces its final decision in early 2020. The new music director is expected to take up the role for the 2020/2021 concert season.

Visit symphonynovascotia.ca for more information.