Music Director Search

The search is on!

A committee of symphony board members, orchestra musicians, and community members began the music director search process in spring 2016. After receiving nearly 400 applications, the committee narrowed it down to six conductors. These top-notch finalists represent an incredible diversity of experience, style and philosophy. Each of the finalists is coming to Asheville to conduct one of the symphony’s 2017-2018 Masterworks concerts. There will be opportunities for the public to meet and greet each finalist, and the ASO will survey the audience at each concert to gather feedback. The ASO expects to announce its new music director in mid-2018.


Meet the Finalists

Rei Hotoda

Rei Hotoda is rapidly becoming one of America’s most sought-after and dynamic artists and was recently appointed music director of the Fresno Philharmonic. She has appeared as a guest conductor with many of today’s leading ensembles, including the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Fort Worth, Jacksonville, Utah, Toronto, and Winnipeg, as well as the Colorado and St. Louis symphonies, among others. Her repertoire spans the staples of the classical canon to works by leading composers of today, and she is equally at home leading the orchestra from the piano and from the podium.

Conducting Masterworks 2, October 21, 2017

Darko Butorac

Darko Butorac has established himself as an exciting conductor, in demand with European and American orchestras. He currently serves as the music director of both the Tallahassee and Missoula symphony orchestras. He has appeared at prestigious venues such as the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Gran Teatro Nacional of Lima, Belgrade’s Kolarac Hall, Teatro Magnani in Italy, as well as at the Tartu, Aspen and Brevard summer music festivals. He has collaborated with soprano Renee Fleming, cellist Colin Carr, and Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons. Butorac is an avid traveler, passionate about bringing people together through the beauty of music.

Conducting Masterworks 3, November 18, 2017

Garry Walker

Winner of the 1999 Leeds Conductor’s Competition, Scottish-born Garry Walker was recently appointed music director of Germany’s Rheinische Philharmonie Koblenz. He is also artistic director of conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Walker was permanent guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and now enjoys a close association with Red Note Ensemble, Scotland’s premier contemporary music ensemble. Walker’s acclaimed American conducting debut was with the Utah Symphony Orchestra in the 2011-2012 season.

Conducting Masterworks 4, February 10, 2018

Nicholas Hersh

Nicholas Hersh is associate conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. As guest conductor, Hersh made his debut with the North Carolina Symphony in 2017, and has appeared with the New World Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Auburn Symphony, and others. He is a frequent collaborator at the Peabody Conservatory as well as the BSO’s OrchKids program for Baltimore City schoolchildren. His symphonic arrangement of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” saw worldwide success as a viral YouTube hit.

Conducting Masterworks 5, March 17, 2018


Jayce Ogren

Jayce Ogren is building a reputation as one of the finest young conductors to emerge from the United States in recent seasons. He is the artistic director of Philadelphia’s Orchestra 2001. Ogren began the 2016-2017 season leading concerts with the Utah Symphony, the Brevard Music Festival, and the Colorado Symphony, and performances of Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna—a work he recorded for Deutsche Grammophone. As a composer, Ogren’s works have been performed at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music and the Brevard Music Center.

Conducting Masterworks 6, April 14, 2018

Jacomo Bairos

Jacomo Bairos has earned a reputation for versatility, superb musicianship, and creative ingenuity. He is currently the Amarillo Symphony’s music director and conductor, as well as co-founder and artistic director for Miami’s Nu Deco Ensemble, an eclectic chamber orchestra reimagined for the 21st century. Recent highlights include debuts with the National, Atlanta, Houston, Grand Rapids, and Sarasota symphony orchestras. Bairos is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory’s distinguished Orchestral Conducting Program and the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen.

Conducting Masterworks 7, May 12, 2018