As Maestro John Farrer announces his retirement at the end of the 2013-14 season, the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra is amid a sea of change. Choosing a new artistic director always is a massive endeavor. So what should the committee look for?
First, they should look at the explosive success of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The L.A. Phil brought in young conductor Gustavo Dudamel in 2007, which was seen as a gamble. But it has paid off. His vigor on the podium is palpable. The Bakersfield Symphony would be wise to ride on the coattails of the L.A. Phil's success and hire young. An added benefit to the enthusiasm a young conductor can bring is the cost. Music directors are huge line items on symphony budgets; getting in on the ground level of talent will cost less.
Secondly, when hiring for any type of new position, it helps to know your customer base. But in the world of orchestral conducting, it is hard to find locals who have the skill. But the benefits of hiring local are huge. Bakersfield is a large and diverse community that suffers and benefits from its close proximity to Los Angeles and all of its cultural resources. A local candidate who already knows this area's peculiarities can utilize its strengths more readily.