Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hanson takes summer gig at Sunriver Music Festival

 Tucson Symphony Orchestra Music Director George Hanson has a summer job.

He was named artistic director and conductor of the Sunriver Music Festival in Oregon, which takes place in the TSO off-season in August. The job will not impact his role in Tucson.

Hanson replaces longtime Sunriver Festival director and conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith, who left for health reasons, according to a press release from the festival.

Hanson debuted at the festival this past August after Smith's declining health last summer prompted organizers to find a replacement for the three-week festival. Hanson conducted all five festival orchestra concerts and "did an incredible job under these tough circumstances and the audience loved him," festival spokeswoman Pam Beezley said in a news release.

"He had great energy and he was very engaging with the audience. The comments from longtime and new patrons were very positive about George and the top quality of the concerts and the orchestra," added Festival Board of Trustees President Jim Putney in a prepared statement.

The festival features musicians from orchestras around the country, Hanson said. Audiences usually come from the nearby town of Sunriver, a sprawling resort town ringed by rivers, mountains and lush golf courses.
"The quality of the music making is very, very high. Wonderful musicians," said Hanson, who started his 16th season with the TSO on Friday.

Hanson called the setting "absolutely stunning."

"I think it really is a tremendous place to have a festival and the festival that they've got going there is really special," he said.

See a review of Friday's opening TSO concert in today's Tucson & Region section.

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