When the Klamath Symphony presents its annual summer concert, it won’t be just the music and free ice cream drawing crowds, but for curious music fans the first chance to see a trio of potential permanent conductors.
In the wake of the retirement of Steve Mitchell, who led the Klamath Symphony since 2009, three final candidates have been chosen to pick up the baton. Each will conduct various pieces at the Klamath Symphony’s concerts this year, a friendly competition to see who can coerce the most beautiful sounds from a varied and fascinating cavalcade of musicians collaborating to comprise the Klamath Symphony Orchestra.
Dan Conrad, Max Harrington and Christopher Benjamin were each selected by the Klamath Symphony board as potential replacements for Mitchell, and all three will be afforded the opportunity to prove their merit. While all three will lead musical compositions for the upcoming summer concert, each will get a chance to oversee the Klamath Symphony Orchestra completely by each singularly conducting the entire annual fall, winter and spring concerts.
Call it a trial by fire, or last man standing competition; each of the three conductors will debut their collaborative efforts sharing conductor duties through several pieces when the Klamath Symphony kicks off its year with the summer concert, slated for Sunday at 5 p.m. with free ice cream for all attendees courtesy of the Herald & News. Thereafter responsibilities fall to Benjamin for the fall concert on Saturday, Nov. 17, Harrington for the winter concert on Sunday, Feb. 17, and Conrad in the spring on May 11.
Originally intended as an outdoor concert at Moore Park, due to lingering wildfire smoke causing poor air quality, the concert has been moved indoors to the Bible Baptist Church Ministries building, at 4849 S. Sixth St., at 5 p.m. That same venue will also host the fall concert, while the Ross Ragland Theater will be the setting for the winter and spring concerts.
Each concert carries with it a specific theme, with music selections chosen by the conductor. The musicians themselves come from all walks of life, a mish-mash of talented Klamath Basin musicians of various professions and backgrounds ranging from grade school youngsters to senior citizens. The collective comes together despite their differences through the mutual love of music performance, with a focus on education and cultural enrichment.
Benjamin, a Portland native and graduate of George Fox University with a Masters Degree from Concordia University, has performed with the Portland Symphonic Choir and toured as a professional tenor. Currently he works as choir director at Henley High School and operates Higher Heights Vocal Studio.
Harrington is the Klamath Union High School band director, and holds degrees from Northwest Community College and the University of Wyoming.
Conrad teaches music at Hosanna Christian School from preschool through high school. He has performed with the Klamath Symphony Orchestra for the past decade as a percussionist.
The symphony board, which will make final determination of who best to lead the orchestra going forward, is comprised of Carlyn Shaw, Pat McFarlan, Michelle Rust, Mike Starr, Sally Cordle and Smitty Parratt.