Indian American assistant conductor of the San Diego Symphony Sameer Patel is among the six finalists vying for the Fresno (Calif.) Philharmonic music director, the orchestra announced through a video presentation Nov. 17.
Patel, along with the five other conductors, will be guests at the Fresno Philharmonic throughout the 2016-17 season, with the Indian American leading off the candidates in October next year.
The finalists were chosen from a list of 105 conductors who applied for the position worldwide. A 13-member panel chose the finalists after conducting numerous Skype interviews and viewing YouTube videos of their conducting.
Patel, who was born and raised in Michigan before moving to San Diego, which he now calls home, said in the video, “I’ve always been drawn to the leadership aspect of being a music director.
“I’m a strong believer in the traditions and the potential of this art form, its extraordinary music and the powerful way it can move, touch and inspire people,” he added.
Previously, he served for three seasons as associate conductor of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, where he conducted the orchestra in more than 100 performances.
In 2013, Patel 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, as well as a Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Scholar.
Patel began his musical training as a pianist and received both his graduate and undergraduate degrees at the University of Michigan. He later trained internationally with several acclaimed conductors and has held prestigious conducting fellowships with the Boston Philharmonic and the Chicago Sinfonietta.
According to his website biography, Patel credits his time with these organizations for developing his passionate approach to engaging with audiences of all backgrounds and to reimagining the concert experience.
For Patel and each of the candidates, following their performance, the orchestra will be soliciting viewer feedback.
“The symphony orchestra concert should be a welcoming communal environment where people from all backgrounds can come together to experience the joys of live performance,” Patel said in the video presentation.
In addition to the work on stage, the new music director for the orchestra is expected to have a strong community tie with Fresno. Patel sided with the orchestra’s sentiment.
“The music director should be an advocate, not only for the symphony orchestra, but for all the arts,” he said. “And he or she should be constantly engaging with the community in order to build and maintain relationships with supporters and audiences.”
While no timetable is schedule for a decision, the orchestra hopes to select its newest music director following the final guest performance in April 2017.