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Huw Edwards (conductor)

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Huw Edwards
Born South Wales, United Kingdom
Occupation Conductor

Huw Edwards is a Welsh conductor currently serving as music director of Olympia, Washington's Olympia Symphony Orchestra and orchestra conductor at the University of Puget Sound. Edwards' conducting career began at age seventeen when he became music director of the Maidstone Opera Company in England. He later attended the University of Surrey, where he conducted the college orchestra along with an ensemble that he formed on his own. At age twenty-three, he won a conducting competition which sent him to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He then held a lecturer position at Northwestern University in Chicago, where he was also a doctoral candidate. Edwards was conductor and music director of the Portland Youth Philharmonic from 1995 to 2002 followed by the Seattle Youth Symphony from 2002 to 2005. He served as music director of the Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra from 2000 to 2012 and has been with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra since 2002. In May 2012 Edwards accepted a position as orchestra conductor at the University of Puget Sound.

Early life and education[edit]

"Seeing Claudio Abbado conduct an opera at Royal Covent Garden in London when I was 11; I was sat on the side of the theater so I could see into the pit. I was totally mesmerized with this man with a white stick and even though he was not making any sounds, he was controlling the sounds and music. It obviously struck a nerve deep inside of me."

Edwards on the origin of his career[1]

Born in South Wales, Edwards moved with his parents to England and sang in choirs as a child. He witnessed his first opera (Giuseppe Verdi's Un ballo in maschera) at eleven years old when his parents took him to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.[2] Seven years later, he was conducting W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's operetta H.M.S. Pinafore on that same podium. Edwards played violin and trumpet through grammar school and high school but abandoned performance for conducting.[3][4]

Edwards has been conducting since age seventeen when he became music director of the Maidstone Opera Company in England, a position he held for six years.[5] Edwards attended the University of Surrey, where he conducted the college orchestra along with an ensemble that he formed on his own. He won a conducting competition in 1988 which sent him to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas at twenty-three years old.[2][5][6] There he experienced "culture shock", being "accustomed to the rolling hills of England and the cosmopolitan buzz of London".[2] He held a lecturer position at Northwestern University in Chicago, where he was also a doctoral candidate. Four years later he moved to the Pacific Northwest. Throughout his lifetime, Edwards has received instruction from Anshel Brusilow (Dallas), chorus leader Simon Johnson (London), Eduardo Mata, Barry Wordsworth, and Victor Yampolsky (Northwestern University).[2][6][7]

Career[edit]

Prior to joining the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Edwards had written extensively about music. He contributed to Stagebill in Chicago, Dallas, London and Washington, D.C. and wrote program notes for Daniel Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma and the Guarnari Quartet.[8] He had also conducted opera and orchestras throughout Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[9] Edwards has performed with the Annas Bay Opera, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Symphony, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony,[10] Rose City Chamber Orchestra,[11] Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and Yakima Symphony.[2][6] He has been invited to speak at the American Symphony Orchestra League convention in Boston and assisted with the organisation's "Meet for the Millennium" project.[12]

Portland Youth Philharmonic[edit]

Edwards became conductor and music director of the Portland Youth Philharmonic (PYP) in 1995, following Jacob Avshalomov's forty-year tenure and becoming the orchestra's third conductor. He was selected unanimously by a twelve-person committee from a field of more than one hundred candidates, and was officially handed the baton by Avshalomov at the season opening Riverside Classics concert on 30 August.[8][13][14] After Avshalomov conducted the first half of the concert, Edwards completed PYP's set with performances of works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.[13][15] The program for the first subscription series concert, which received positive reception,[16] included Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco Overture, Ralph Vaughan Williams's Serenade to Music and Paul Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber.[15] In addition to the four season subscription concerts performed at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the 1995–1996 season included performances at the Newport Performing Arts Center in Newport and The Resort at the Mountain near Mount Hood,[17][18] as well as in Eugene, Salem and Newberg.[19] In 1996 the first interactive Children's Concert was broadcast live via satellite across Oregon.[20][21] The collaboration between PYP and Multnomah Community TV continued beyond 1996; in 1998 concerts were streamed as far away as Tucson, Arizona and a 1999 recording became a finalist in the national Hometown Video festival.[22]

Released on 27 March 1998, Fountain of Youth became the orchestra's sixth commercial recording on Compact Disc (previous recordings were vinyl or cassette). The compilation album included works recorded at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall during seasons seventy-three and seventy-four.[23] PYP represented the United States at the Banff International Festival of Youth Orchestras in April 1998.[20][23] In January 1999, Portland Parent published an article by Edwards titled "The Role of Classical Music in the Lives of Young People", which discussed the benefits of classical music to child learning development.[24] The 1998–1999 season included performances in Salem, Newberg, Welches, St. Helens and Milwaukie and Longview, Washington in addition to the regular subscription series. On 10 February 1999 the orchestra opened a Portland Trail Blazers game at the Rose Garden by performing The Star-Spangled Banner.[20]

During Edwards' seven years with the orchestra, he and other PYP representatives established a peer mentor program which partnered orchestra musicians with low-income students with little access to music education,[25][26] and earned the ensemble its second ASCAP award for "Adventurous Programming and Commitment to Contemporary Music".[9][21] He made five recordings and led the orchestra on two tours: in 1998 the Philharmonic represented the United States at the Banff International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Canada, and the orchestra toured Australia and New Zealand in 2000.[9][21] The tour included performances in Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Armidale, Newcastle, Sydney, and Melbourne.[27][28] Edwards also recorded Gabriel Fauré's Requiem at St. Mary's Cathedral as a collaboration with Cantores in Ecclesia.[10][29] Edwards left PYP in 2002 and was succeeded by Mei-Ann Chen.[21] Guest conductors during PYP's 2007–2008 season included Ken Selden, director of orchestral studies at Portland State University, former Seattle Symphony conductor Alastair Willis, along with former PYP conductors Edwards and Chen.[30][31]

Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra[edit]

He became music director of the Seattle Youth Symphony at the start of its sixtieth season (2002–2003), putting him in charge of 1,000 young musicians participating in the symphony and its four preparatory orchestras as well as the organisation's outreach programs and summer music festival (Marrowstone).[32] Edwards increased the Seattle orchestra's repertoire by performing works by British composers of the 20th century and by premiering works by American composers such as John Mackey.[33] One Seattle Post-Intelligencer contributor wrote that Edwards made a "fine choice" for the ensemble, noting that he "nurture[d], coache[d] and encourage[d] his musicians". Furthermore, she claimed that his program notes were a "model of clarity and fascinating detail".[34] Edwards remained music director of the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra until 2005.[33][35] He has stated the following about working with young musicians:

[With young musicians] You have to teach and explain more. You have to fire their imagination. With professionals, you look for clarity and consistency. With students, you have to motivate and explain, using different approaches. Their attention span can come and go. It is unpredictable. From first rehearsal to performance, they will come a long way. I am very big on team work, and I tell them they are part of a team and individual egos are less important.[2]

Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Olympia Symphony Orchestra[edit]

Edwards began serving as music director of the Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra in 2000.[36] His year-long audition process for the music director position with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra began during the 2002–2003 season.[5] The season also marked his fifth with the Marrowstone Summer Music program, where he remained until 2005.[2][5] In 2010, Edwards was one of four finalists for the conductor position with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.[4]

In April 2012 Edwards announced his resignation at the end of his twelfth season with the Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra, citing exhaustion from the commutes between Olympia and Portland as the reason.[37] He has been named Conductor Emeritus and Principal Guest Conductor and is scheduled to return for the 2012–2013 season finale concert.[38]

University of Puget Sound[edit]

In May 2012, Edwards accepted the orchestra conductor position at the University of Puget Sound, a private liberal arts college located in Tacoma, Washington.[39]

Interests[edit]

Dedicated to music education, Edwards enjoys conducting Beethoven for youth orchestras.[2][4] He has admitted that he did not envision a career conducting youth orchestras but also that he "did not rule them out".[2] His favourite composition is "Parsifal" by Wagner; other favourites include unaccompanied choral music, cello suites by Bach, quartets by Beethoven and jazz, including Nat King Cole.[14] Apart from music, Edwards likes the Chicago Bears, CrossFit, golf, kayaking, Masterpiece Theater, poetry, and Rhône wine along with the winemaking process.[1][6] Edwards is an avid sports fan and fitness advocate; he is a former rugby player, enjoys running and playing squash, and believes there are similarities between how music and sports affect the community.[3][4] He was sometimes referred to as "coach" by musicians of the Portland Youth Philharmonic.[4] Edwards has shared that he would want to work at a vineyard or winery, or be a sports radio host or travel correspondent for a publication if he were not a conductor.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Q & A with the conductors". Portland Youth Philharmonic. Retrieved 25 September 2011. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Campbell, R.M. (16 August 2002). "Familiar face on podium taking the helm at Youth Symphony". Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Hearst Corporation). ISSN 0745-970X. OCLC 3734418. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Ross, Terry. "Mr. A's passing the baton". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Muir, Patrick D. (8 April 2000). "Huw Edwards leads the symphony on Saturday". Yakima Herald-Republic (Yakima, Washington: The Seattle Times Company). Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Our Maestro: Huw Edwards". Olympia Symphony. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Huw Edwards, Music Director & Conductor". Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  7. ^ Maclaine, David (15 November 1995). "Youthful Promise". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon: City of Roses Newspapers). 
  8. ^ a b "Edwards leads symphony". The Sunday Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). 21 May 1995. ISSN 8750-1317. 
  9. ^ a b c Campbell, R.M. (26 November 2002). "Youth symphony opens 60th season". Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Hearst Corporation). ISSN 0745-970X. OCLC 3734418. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "Kids Holiday Concert to Feature Adaptation of "The Snowman"". Oregon Symphony. 9 November 2001. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "History of the Rose City Chamber Orchestra". Rose City Chamber Orchestra. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  12. ^ "Pacesetters: Columbia Symphony Orchestra selects conductor". Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, Oregon: The Dolan Company). 
  13. ^ a b Johnson, Holly. "Avshalomov polishes off tenure". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317.  Note: Article was published between 31 August and 4 September 1995, based on text indicating days of week in relation to concerts; exact date unknown.
  14. ^ a b "Fire in the philharmonic". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). 7 November 1995. ISSN 8750-1317.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  15. ^ a b Maclaine, David (5 September 1995). "Young at Heart: Portland Youth Philharmonic Conductor Jacob Avshalomov Passes the Baton to the Next Generation on a Perfect Summer Evening by the River". Willamette Week (Portland, Oregon: City of Roses Newspapers). 
  16. ^ Starke, Amy Martinez (20 November 1995). "New youth orchestra boss wows crowd". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. 
  17. ^ "Huw Edwards brings Youth Philharmonic to Newport". The News Guard (Lincoln City, Oregon). 15 November 1995. 
  18. ^ "Violinist Chara Epp of Siletz to perform with Portland Youth Philharmonic in Newport". News-Times (Newport, Oregon: News Media Corporation). 17 November 1995. 
  19. ^ Richards, Suzanne (1 February 1996). "The Mountain will be alive with music". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. 
  20. ^ a b c Stabler, David (28 February 1999). "Young, Gifted and 75". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). pp. 1, 10. ISSN 8750-1317. 
  21. ^ a b c d "The History of America's First Established Youth Orchestra". Portland Youth Philharmonic. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  22. ^ "MCTV and Portland Youth Philharmonic Continue Partnership", Line Out (Multnomah Community TV), March 1999 
  23. ^ a b "Local Talents Release New CD". The Skanner (Portland, Oregon). 25 March 1998. 
  24. ^ Edwards, Huw (January 1999). "The Role of Classical Music in the Lives of Young People". Portland Parent. 
  25. ^ McQuillen, James. "Portland Youth Philharmonic". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  26. ^ Fitzgibbon, Joe (24 April 1997). "Youth Philharmonic mentors nurture crop of new musicians". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). pp. 1, 5. ISSN 8750-1317. 
  27. ^ Stabler, David (26 June 2000). ""Down Under 2000" to take youth orchestra to Southern Hemisphere". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. 
  28. ^ Lemmer, Emily (20 July 2000). "Local musicians 'jet' to Australia with philharmonic". Beaverton Valley Times (Beaverton, Oregon: Community Newspapers Inc.). 
  29. ^ "Cantores in Ecclesia". Cantores in Ecclesia. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  30. ^ Bartels, Eric (26 June 2007). "Departing conductor is a rising star". Portland Tribune (Portland, Oregon: Pamplin Media Group). pp. 1–2. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  31. ^ Skidmore, Nathan (27 April 2008). "May 2 – May 8: Music, Movies & More". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  32. ^ Bargreen, Melinda (14 February 2002). "Youth symphony gets a new music director". The Seattle Times (The Seattle Times Company). ISSN 0745-9696. OCLC 9198928. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  33. ^ a b "Alumni/History". Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  34. ^ Kiraly, Philippa (18 May 2004). "Young musicians finish their season with a skillful Ives". Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Hearst Corporation). ISSN 0745-970X. OCLC 3734418. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  35. ^ Bargreen, Melinda (8 March 2005). "Youth Symphony director to resign". The Seattle Times (The Seattle Times Company). ISSN 0745-9696. OCLC 9198928. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  36. ^ Stabler, David (7 June 2000). "Portland Youth Philharmonic's director adds post with the Columbia Symphony". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). ISSN 8750-1317. 
  37. ^ Campbell, Brett (17 April 2012). "Random Notes: Leaks, links and a palpable scoop from Oregon's classical music whirl". Oregon ArtsWatch. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  38. ^ Bash, James (3 May 2012). "Portland Columbia Symphony concert to be a grand finale for Huw Edwards". Oregon Music News. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  39. ^ Bash, James (7 May 2012). "Portland Columbia Symphony makes final concert with Edwards memorable". Oregon Music News. Retrieved 15 May 2012. 

External links[edit]