Philharmonic debuts new conductor at holiday concert

November 19, 2013

By Peter Clark

The Issaquah Philharmonic and its new conductor Chase Chang hope to make sweet music together.

After serving as the interim conductor for a trial period in the summer performance, Chang will have the first official chance to bring his leadership to the community during a Nov. 25 concert. Both he and Philharmonic President Kathy Landreth are excited to offer the free program and to introduce the new permanent conductor to the public.

Contributed The Issaquah Philharmonic has been practicing for weeks in order to deliver a holiday program to the public.

The Issaquah Philharmonic has been practicing for weeks in order to deliver a holiday program to the public.

“We’re all really excited,” Landreth said. “This is a real community orchestra.”

The Nov. 25 concert, at Faith United Methodist Church, will offer selections from “The Nutcracker,” “Sleigh Ride,” “The Barber of Seville,” and portions of Dvorak’s “New World” symphony.

After the founding conductor of the group, Duane Bowen, retired in 2011, Landreth said the group was uncertain about the future. The volunteer musicians were unsure who would follow in Bowen’s footsteps or in what direction the orchestra should move.

“It was a real identity crisis for the group,” she said. “But, a lot of people stuck with it.”

A series of temporary conductors filled in as Landreth and the board of directors conducted a search for long-term leadership. In the meantime, the Issaquah Philharmonic secured its license as a nonprofit organization.

Chang, current director of the Bellevue High School Orchestra, heard about the opportunity and jumped at the chance.

“I had been looking for a conducting position because it’s something I love to do,” he said, crediting the philharmonic board of directors with giving him a shot in the summer. “That was a lot of fun and it was a learning experience for all of us. I’m getting a feel for the orchestra and they’re getting a feel for me.”

Chang holds a music master’s in conducting from Brigham Young University, a B.A. and B.M. in music education from the University of Washington, and is a National Board-certified teacher in music. He has taught music for 14 years.

Conducting the philharmonic allows him to join his love of leading an orchestra with bringing music to the masses.

“I’m hoping to bring quality music to the community,” he said, “and at the same time, foster education in that music. My personal goal is to grow the program so we can have more members, play bigger numbers and offer more performances.”

Landreth, who plays the violin in the orchestra, said the approximately 35 musicians have gained a lot already under Chang’s conducting.

“We were scared there for a little bit that the orchestra would not continue,” she said. “We’re moving forward and getting better every week.”

She said his educational background has paid off.

“With Chase as our coach now, we have really improved a lot,” she said. “He’s a really good teacher.”

Both were eager to invite music lovers in the region to the holiday concert.

“We’re certainly looking forward to it,” Chang said.


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