Reno Philharmonic Appoints Laura Jackson

The Reno Gazette-Journal just announced that Laura Jackson has been appointed the new music director and conductor of the Reno Philharmonic. She is the fourth conductor to hold a position with the ensemble and first woman.

Jackson’s conducting career has taken her across the country and around the world; the RGJ reports performances with the Philippines Philharmonic Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Boca Raton Symphony. She just finished three years with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra where she served as assistant conductor.

What makes this story more interesting is that the Reno Philharmonic chose to make the audition process for their new conductor more interesting by centering it on an American Idol-esque elimination process. (The other conductors auditioning for the position were Jeffrey Grogan, Rebecca Miller, Christopher Confessore, and Sarah Hatsuko Hicks.)

Jackson’s personal website reveals further truths about her career highlights and a clear interest in the performance of works by women composers. The repertoire listed on her website list performances of works by Jennifer Higdon (City Scape and Zaka); Susan Botti (the West Coast Premiere of Translucence, the U.S. Premiere of “The Exchange”).

In interviews with and the Reno Gazette-Journal Jackson discusses the continued importance of symphony orchestras in communities and her feelings on diverse programming. In the RGJ she likens the construction of a concert program to be similar to that of a meal:

What you want is every piece on the program to be savored in and of itself, but you also want it to complement and blend or to contrast the other pieces on the program. So, you’re savoring every flavor and yet each flavor sort of positions you for the next. I love juxtaposing pieces that are in some way related aurally. In other words, if it’s a piece that was just written last week and the composer was fascinated by, let’s say Beethoven you put that right next to a Beethoven piece. Then you understand that new piece better and you also hear the Beethoven differently.
I believe that we can anticipate a diverse palette from Jackson in her programming choices for Reno, ones that include works by women composers — evident in the release of schedule for the 2009-10 concert season: the Reno Philharmonic will be performing Higdon’s Blue Cathedral in November.

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