A new conductor for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra has been named.
Alexander Prior, 24, is the new chief conductor, taking over the role from Bill Eddins, who will be stepping down next year.
“I have very big shoes to fill so I don’t come in with a mindset of changing things for the sake of changing things, being different for the sake of being different,” Prior said.
“I want to be me, because I think music works best when you’re honest, life works best when you’re honest, but music too.”
Prior was born in London, England and has worked in orchestras in Cologne, St. Petersburg and Boston. He’s made several guest appearances with Edmonton’s symphony over the past couple of years and felt immediate chemistry with the musicians. He said his new role was a natural fit.
“From the first moment, it really felt like a romance. It felt like falling in love,” Prior said.
“It wasn’t so much a choice as just a natural progression that just felt so natural, so right, so comfortable that it couldn’t go any other way.”
Prior described the Winspear Centre as one of the best venues in North America and he’s thrilled to join the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
“It’s really a fantastic feeling and what a home to have. I mean, this is one of the most extraordinary halls and one of the most extraordinary orchestras in North America so I mean, I’m a very lucky guy,” he said.
“I think if we make good music, do it honestly and listen to what the city wants us to do as well as offering new things that’s, I think, the recipe for success.”
Prior will assume his new role in the 2017-2018 season.
He is both a conductor and composer – his ballet Mowgli was commissioned by the Moscow State Ballet when he was 13 years old. Prior graduated with distinction as a conductor from the Conservatoire in St. Petersburg at the age of 17.
With an impressive resume for such a young man, Prior said he’s wanted to be a conductor for as long as he can remember.
“I remember at the age of four or five in nursery, in preschool, saying to my teacher – who was a very sweet lady, I remember her very fondly – saying, ‘I’m going to be a conductor!'”
He was awarded the Conducting Fellowships at the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival. He has conducted numerous orchestras including the Seattle Symphony, the Victoria Symphony and the New World Symphony.