Edmonton Symphony Orchestra musical director/conductor
The Edmonton Journal
September 23, 2016
The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is kicking off its 65th year on a sad note: Bill Eddins will end his run as music director after the 2016-17 season.
“It was time,” he said, as he sat on a table in one of the Winspear Centre’s backstage hallways on Friday morning. “It was time for change and it was time to create new and interesting things.”
Eddins, who lives in Minneapolis, Minn. and spends about 14 weeks of the year in Edmonton, joined the ESO in 2005. Under his tenure, the orchestra worked with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and soprano Renee Fleming, started a late-night series of performances, and played unconventional works by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu and weirdo genius Frank Zappa, among others.
Eddins’s personal highlight? “Schlepping the band” to New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2012, when the ESO performed Martinu’s Symphony No. 1. “Seeing the orchestra on that stage and playing. It’s the greatest stage in the world.”
Annemarie Petrov, executive director of the ESO, praised his artistic vision. “Bill’s a renaissance man,” she said, standing next to Eddins in the Winspear. “He’s so not your typical maestro.”
“I hate that word!” he piped up.
“He’s turned this orchestra on a corner,” said Petrov. “The programming has completely changed in the 10 years that I’ve worked here. You know what we like to say? We have the smartest audience of any orchestra and I think a large part of that is their own personal interest and where Bill has taken them on this journey over 12 years. That’s artistic leadership — it’s not doing what the audience thinks they necessarily want but taking them places and that’s what Bill’s done.”
She refused to reveal much about the search for his replacement. “At this point, we’re going to say this is our 65th anniversary,” she said. “Consider it one long birthday party and there will be more presents to unwrap in the future. We don’t have anything to announce today.”
After the end of his 12th year, Eddins will serve as the ESO’s music director emeritus to help with the Winspear Completion Project, which involves the construction of a second building to house a 540-seat acoustic hall, studios, and programming space for the Tommy Banks Institute for Musical Creativity. The 40,000-square foot project, estimated to cost $78 million, was promised $13 million from the city, but the Winspear is still looking for money from other levels of government.