Karen Deal, founding conductor of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra and former associate conductor of the Annapolis Symphony, has been named the assistant conductor of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
Deal has agreed to a three-year contract that will place her on the Nashville podium for more than 100 concerts per season and could lead to the associate directorship of the orchestra.
Well known to area audiences through her six-year association with the ASO and her work with the youth orchestra the past two seasons, Deal, 35, will leave Maryland to assume her duties in Tennessee Aug. 1.
"I'm very excited," she said. "This is a fantastic opportunity with an excellent orchestra."
Founded in 1946, the Nashville Symphony is a highly regarded second-tier orchestra with a $3.5 million annual operating budget and a 52-week concert season that includes 12 weeks of classical concerts, five "pops" subscription programs and a complete summer slate.
Under the direction of conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn, Nashville has engaged such top-rank soloists as Misha Dichter, Pinchas Zuckerman, Alicia de Larrocha and Lorin Hollander for the coming season.
"We began with 120 resumes," said Stephen Greil, executive director of the Nashville Symphony. "After screening them, our selection committee narrowed that number down to 20. And then, with the help of videotapes, we selected eight finalists."
All finalists were brought to Nashville for interviews, rehearsals and a concert audition. Deal, the only woman among the finalists, conducted Rossini's "Semiramide" Overture, the Shostakovich "Festival Overture" and Richard Strauss' "Don Juan" in front of a few thousand listeners at Nashville's Centennial Park June 7.
"She was everyone's first choice," Greil said. "Her personality, energy and enthusiasm, along with her musical abilities, gave her the nod. We are very excited to have her, and we look forward to her joining our staff."
"She was the players' first choice," said Schermerhorn, "and I'm happy to say I agreed with them. There's less of a symphonic tradition here in Nashville than in many cities, and Karen is full of the enterprise and imagination that we need to help build that tradition.