THE PEABODY CONSERVATORY today announced the appointment of Hajime Teri Murai, a highly regarded 37-year-old conductor and teacher, as music director of the Peabody Symphony Orchestra.
Murai, known as Teri, comes from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He created some excitement in December when he conducted the Peabody orchestra's 90 musicians in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 and other works.
The orchestra has been without a fulltime resident director since Peter Eros left several years ago, but it was praised for its concerts in the Soviet Union in 1987.
Murai, a San Francisco native and third-generation Japanese-American, is the first incumbent of the Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Music Director Chair. He said he was happy "to be part of a pretty exciting school with such a long-standing tradition. I think the orchestra is in a strong position to take off."
Murai said he likes "music that communicates" from different periods. He hopes to increase Peabody concerts from six to eight next year with nine rehearsals, three a week, for each performance. He also plans to direct a Peabody opera.
Murai begins his job in September as director of Peabody orchestral activities. Since 1976 he has been associate professor of orchestra and conducting and music director of the Concert Orchestra at the Cincinnati conservatory.
He also has led the Cincinnati Youth Symphony Orchestra since 1979 and been a guest conductor with more than 15 other orchestras, mostly in the West and Mid-West. Known among other things for his premieres, Murai has won numerous ASCAP awards for the "Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music."
Peabody Director Robert Pierce said Murai's appointment was "enthusiastically endorsed by the faculty search committee." Pierce expects "an exciting period of growth for the orchestra," Peabody's major ensemble.
A baseball and football fan and golfer, Murai retains warm feelings for the San Francisco Giants but also admires Orioles manager Frank Robinson and is poised to become an Oriole fan.
"I didn't like the way the Giants released Frank; for three years I remembered that." Murai said he'd love to lead the Peabody orchestra at an Oriole game.
The former percussionist is married to violinist Carol Hubler Murai, who was a graduate student at Cincinnati when they met. They have two children Alicia, 4, and Nicholas, 11 months. Murai has teaching commitments through the end of July in Cincinnati and the family will move here in August.
Murai caught the music bug at Lowell High School in San Francisco where he studied percussion and conducting under Jack Pereira from 1968 to 1971. He received a B.A. in music with emphasis on conducting in 1974 and a conducting M.A. in 1976, both at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The music director chair was established last summer as a result of a $3-million gift to Peabody's endowment from the Blaustein-Rosenberg-Thalheimer Family Group. Mrs. Rosenberg, 91, is a well-known local philanthropist and alumna of the school.