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Fresno Philharmonic Selects Rei Hotoda As First Female Music Director

Todd Rosenberg
Courtesy The Fresno Philharmonic
Conductor Rei Hotoda is the new music director of the Fresno Philharmonic

The Fresno Philharmonic has announced that conductor Rei Hotoda will be the orchestra's next music director. Hotoda is the first woman and the first Asian-American to hold the position, and is just the eighth music director in the orchestra's history.

Hotoda is currently the Associate Conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra, and has held assistant conductor roles at orchestras in Dallas and Winnipeg. She says she is excited about the opportunity to lead the Philharmonic as its next conductor. 

"I feel so strongly about this orchestra and about this community that we can grow together and we can have big goals in life, and that's only because I was inspired by this orchestra and this organization that this is possible," says Hotoda. 

Hotoda's selection brings to a close a 24-month search process with dozens of applicants from across the country. The orchestra's selection committee eventually narrowed that list down to just six finalists, and each appeared as a guest conductor with the orchestra in the Philharmonic's 2016-2017 season.  

"Rei just connected with the musicians of the orchestra, with the audience, I think everyone who met her. I think we all came out of her visit with just a strong sense that this would be the right person," says Philharmonic Executive Director Stephen Wilson. 

Hotoda told Valley Public Radio work is already underway on planning the 2017-2018 season, which will open with a concert featuring "New Era Dance" by contemporary American composer Aaron Jay Kernis, as well as Claude Debussy's "Prelude To Afternoon of A Faun," Edvard Grieg's "Piano Concerto in A Minor" and Ottorino Respighi's "Pines of Rome."

Hotoda says she hopes to learn more about the community, but looks forward to bringing a new perspective to area listeners. "I have so much faith in the orchestra, the players, the board, that with this new way of looking at music, not necessarily here's your medicine here's your new music that you have to swallow so much but that is has some application to your life somehow. I really think that music can transform lives. If it's just thinking a different way. Whether you really love a piece or really hate it, you're having a reaction to this musical work that makes you think differently. How will that effect your life," asks Hotoda.

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