Skip to main content

The search for the Kennett Symphony's next conductor enters a new phase

03/26/2014 01:02PM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print, Arts+Entertainment


“I was learning music from people who had it in their blood,” Rahbee explained of his time spent in Europe studying music.



By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

All three finalists to become the next conductor of the Kennett Symphony of Chester County have now had the opportunity to lead the orchestra at a local performance.

On March 22, Dr. David Alexander Rahbee, a native of Boston, led the symphony through its “Welcome Spring!” program at West Chester University's Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre that featured Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, “Pastoral” and Copland's Appalachian Spring.

Image title

Now that Rahbee, Michael Hall, and Rei Hotoda, have taken their turns with the conducting baton at a show in Chester County, Kennett Symphony officials will decide which one of the three candidates becomes the 74-year-old organization's next conductor.

The decision won't be easy.

Rahbee, Hall, and Hotoda were the finalists of an exhaustive search process that started in December of 2012 when Mary Woodmansee Green decided to retire from the Kennett Symphony after leading it for the last 25 years. An eight-member search committee was formed, comprised of four board members and four musicians who perform with the symphony. The committee utilized various national outlets to publicize the job opening and received a tremendous response—more than one hundred highly qualified candidates from around the world expressed interest in the position.

Rahbee said that he was immediately intrigued by the opportunity.

“When I was looking over the job description, I was thinking, 'this is the kind of place where I would like to invest myself. This is the kind of place where I want to be. These people care about the music and I want to go where people care.'”

After speaking to Kennett Symphony officials, his interest in the position only grew.

Monica Buffington, the executive director of the Kennett Symphony, explained that the 

Image title

organization was very thorough as the conductor search progressed. After all, a symphony doesn't often search for a new musical director.

The search committee spent several months reviewing the applications. The musicians on the search committee led the first round of the search process by eliminating those conductors that, for various reasons, didn’t fit with what the Kennett Symphony was looking for.

“You could quickly see that some candidates didn’t have the professional experience that we were looking for, or that the professional experience just didn’t match what we were looking for,” Buffington said.

The field was narrowed to 18 candidates after the first round of screening. All those candidates were asked to provide references from the administrative staff, the board members, and musicians of the symphonies that they were a part of. Members of the Kennett Symphony’s search committee then reached out to their counterparts, finding out important details about how the conductor candidates related to each component of a symphony's organization. Buffington said that the Kennett Symphony was looking for someone who could work in perfect harmony with not just the musicians, but the board of directors and the staff as well. This round of screening narrowed the search to seven semifinalists.

After another round of interviews, the candidate list was narrowed to three. The search committee then planned out a visit by each of the three finalists, and each one would have the chance to work with the Kennett Symphony during a major show in the 2013-2014 season.

Rahbee traveled from the West Coast to meet with various groups last week in advance of the March 22 performance. He is currently an artist-in-residence at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle, where he serves as conductor of the University Orchestra and teaches conducting.

“It's been a terrific experience,” he said of the one-year stint at the University of Washington School of Music. “I'm teaching conducting as well as serving as the conductor for the University Orchestra. We rehearse three or four times a week.”

Rahbee talked about the similarities between conducting and teaching.

“A conductor is really a teacher. It might be in different guises and different places. As a teacher, what I'm trying to do is teach my students how to teach themselves. Most of what we do {in conducting} is search and find our own way to make things happen.”

Rahbee has an extensive musical background. 

He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin and composition from Indiana University, a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory in orchestral conducting, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Montreal in orchestral conducting.

Rahbee explained that while he always knew that he wanted to be a conductor, he didn't want to jump into that too soon so he focused his energies on the violin and composition before transitioning to conducting.

He journeyed to Vienna and spent ten years there, participating in post-graduate conducting classes at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Vienna.

In the mid-1990s, esteemed orchestra conductor Sir Georg Solti, invited Rahbee to watch him at work, an experience that Rahbee said “gave me the strength and confidence to go after my dreams.”

Rahbee was also selected to perform in master classes by such esteemed conductors as Kurt Masur, Sir Colin Davis, Jorma Panula, Zdeněk Mácal, Peter Eötvös, Zoltán Peskó, and Helmut Rilling. 

“I was learning music from people who had it in their blood,” he explained.

He considers Nikolaus Harnoncourt to be among his most influential mentors, and says that Harnoncourt changed the way he thinks about music.

“Not a day goes by when I don't think about his inspiration,” Rahbee said of his mentor.

One thing that he has learned over the years is to be adaptable to any situation. Sometimes, a conductor will have several opportunities to rehearse with an orchestra before taking the stage; other times, there might not be any rehearsals at all. His time with the Kennett Symphony was certainly limited.

“I've trained myself to be ready for every opportunity,” Rahbee explained. “As professionals, we know how much time we have to rehearse. We know what we have to do.”

Rahbee said that if he becomes the next musical director for the Kennett Symphony, he will be as involved in the community as he can be. He also wants to get people to understand that anyone can enjoy orchestra performances.

“I care about breaking down barriers,” Rahbee explained. “I want people to see that I'm not aloof. I don't listen to Mozart every day. I watch the NFL on Sundays. I like pizza. I just have a passion for this kind of music. It's not an elitist art form. I want to do what I can to show people that everyone can enjoy this kind of music.”

Now that all three candidates have had the opportunity to lead the orchestra, Kennett Symphony officials will get feedback from all of its constituents and the search committee will meet and make its final selection. Then that candidate's name will be presented to the board of directors for its approval. 

Buffington said that the goal is to have the new conductor in place before September for the official start of the 2014-2015 season.

To learn more about the Kennett Symphony's conductor search or for information about upcoming performances, call 610-444-6363 or visit www.kennettsymphony.org

“I want to do what I can to show people that everyone can enjoy this kind of music.” ~ David Alexander Rahbee 


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



kennett symphony kennett symphony of chester county kennett symphony conductor


You might also like

Walk or run to 'Beat Beethoven'

The Kennett Symphony of Chester County’s second annual “Beat Beethoven” 5K race/1 Mile Walk will be held on July 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Radley Run Country Club
Thumb_hall

Kennett Symphony appoints director

The board of directors of the Kennett Symphony of Chester County has selected Michael Hall as music director.

  • Milburn Orchards UPICK Cherry Adventure

    07/01/2015
    08:00am — 06:00pm

    Tons of sweet (both red & white) and tart cherries makes for a great UPICK Adventure for the whol...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/01/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/01/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Milburn Orchards UPICK Cherry Adventure

    07/02/2015
    08:00am — 06:00pm

    Tons of sweet (both red & white) and tart cherries makes for a great UPICK Adventure for the whol...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/02/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/02/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/04/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/01/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/01/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Milburn Orchards UPICK Cherry Adventure

    07/01/2015
    08:00am — 06:00pm

    Tons of sweet (both red & white) and tart cherries makes for a great UPICK Adventure for the whol...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/02/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/02/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Milburn Orchards UPICK Cherry Adventure

    07/02/2015
    08:00am — 06:00pm

    Tons of sweet (both red & white) and tart cherries makes for a great UPICK Adventure for the whol...


  • West Chester Applebee’s, located at 1107 West Chester Pike, will be hosting two lemonade stands: ...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/03/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Milburn Orchards UPICK Cherry Adventure

    07/03/2015
    08:00am — 06:00pm

    Tons of sweet (both red & white) and tart cherries makes for a great UPICK Adventure for the whol...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/04/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/05/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Delaware Aerospace Overnight Academy

    07/05/2015
    12:00pm — 03:00pm

    Destination Moon academy is for students entering 7, 8, & 9th grade. The academy will run from J...


  • Week long academy at University of Delaware, Clayton Hall, from July 5th through July 10th for st...


  • Steamin' Day at Auburn Heights

    07/05/2015
    12:30pm — 04:30pm

    Celebrate stars, stripes, and steam during Steamin’ Day at Auburn Heights over the 4th of July ho...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/05/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/05/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/06/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    07/06/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    07/06/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/07/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/08/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/08/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/08/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/09/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/09/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • West Chester Applebee’s, located at 1107 W Chester Pike is hosting a bake sale July 10 through Ju...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/10/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/10/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • Friday Night Lights

    07/10/2015
    08:00pm — 11:00pm

    Natural Lands Trust's popular adults-only event returns for the fifth year! Enjoy a relaxing even...


  • How Not to Kill Your Tree

    07/11/2015
    09:00am — 11:00am

    Every tree is a masterpiece of form, function, and value. This homeowner-friendly workshop presen...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Second Saturdays

    07/11/2015
    10:00am — 04:00pm

    Join us on the Second Saturday of each month for special programming in our native plant gardens....


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/11/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/11/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/12/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Save Our Monarchs

    07/12/2015
    12:30pm — 03:30pm

    Monarch butterfly numbers have declined more than 90% over the past 20 years. Habitat destruction...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/12/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/12/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/13/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    07/13/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    07/13/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/14/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/15/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/15/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/15/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/15/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/15/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/15/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/16/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/16/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/17/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/17/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/18/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Civil War Brass Band Concert

    07/18/2015
    05:00pm

    On Saturday, July 18th the Mill at Anselma Preservation & Education Trust will present a concert ...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/18/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • Integrated Pest Management

    07/18/2015
    08:30am — 05:00pm

    Every garden is home to a host of life. Unfortunately, some of these six- and eight-legged arthro...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/19/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Milburn Orchards Sundae Sunday

    07/19/2015
    12:00pm — 05:00pm

    Celebrate National Ice Cream Day at Milburn's on 7/19 with FREE face painting from 12-3pm, plus a...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/19/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/19/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Life in the 1860s Weekend

    07/19/2015
    10:00am — 04:00pm

    How did people dress and live in the 1860s? What was it like to be a miller at this time? Come ou...


  • Vacation Bible School

    07/20/2015
    09:00am — 12:00pm

    Vacation Bible School will be held July 20-24, 2015, 9 am until noon at The United Church of Chr...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/20/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/20/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    07/20/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    07/20/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/21/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/21/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • The Spayed Club now has THREE transport locations throughout the Greater Philadelphia area -- Pot...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/22/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/22/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/22/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/22/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/22/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/22/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


Chester County High School Sports