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Home / Arts / Pasadena Symphony announces Brett Mitchell as new music director

Pasadena Symphony announces Brett Mitchell as new music director

by Staff
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American conductor Brett Mitchell is the Pasadena Symphony’s new music director and will begin his five-year tenure April 1.

Pasadena Symphony Board President Kimberly Winick announced her fellow directors’ decision to appoint Mitchell in a statement Friday. 

Critics have hailed Mitchell for his “deftly rendered” performances, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper, and “engaging, in-depth explorations of thoughtfully curated programs,” according to Cascade A&E. 

“I’m deeply honored and absolutely thrilled to be joining the Pasadena Symphony as its next Music Director,” Mitchell said in a statement. “From the first moment we made music together in March 2022, it was very clear that there was a special connection between the musicians and me, and that same chemistry has since extended beyond the stage to our friends in the audience and throughout our community. I couldn’t be more excited for the musical journey that lies ahead for our entire community as we embark together on this next chapter of the Pasadena Symphony’s story.”

Symphony officials described him as a dedicated advocate for classical music who is not shy about his love of popular music. He also has a “warm, down-to-earth demeanor,” according to Houstonia Magazine. 

“Brett Mitchell emerged from our competitive music director search as our all-around favorite, and I am delighted to welcome him as our new artistic leader,” Winnick said in a statement. “His energy and talent will engage, sustain, and help to broaden our musical community.”

Mitchell’s first performance as music director will open the orchestra’s season on Oct. 26, according to the Pasadena Symphony.

Mitchell is currently the artistic director and conductor of the Sunriver Music Festival in Oregon. He has held that position since 2022 and will continue in that role while he leads the Pasadena Symphony. 

From 2017 to 2021, Mitchell was music director at the Colorado Symphony in Denver following four years with The Cleveland Orchestra. There Mitchell advanced from assistant conductor to associate conductor. He held an earlier four-year post as assistant conductor of the Houston Symphony.

Mitchell is a frequently featured guest conductor. Recent engagements include the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl; the Cleveland and Minnesota orchestras; the Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, National, San Francisco and Vancouver symphonies, among others; and a two-week tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. 

Mitchell also regularly works with top soloists, such as Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, Itzhak Perlman, Kirill Gerstein, Conrad Tao, Rudolf Buchbinder, James Ehnes, Augustin Hadelich, Leila Josefowicz and Alisa Weilerstein, according to the Pasadena Symphony. 

“We are excited Brett Mitchell is joining the orchestra at this significant time in the orchestra’s history, with our centennial just four years away,” symphony CEO Andrew Brown said in a statement. “Brett is a tremendous talent. With his deeply creative programming, broad vision, collaborative spirit, and innate ability to keep classical music fresh and inspire musicians and audiences alike, he is the right person to lead the orchestra into its second century.”

Mitchell is the sixth conductor to serve as Music Director of the Pasadena Symphony since the orchestra was founded in 1928. David Lockington preceded Mitchell in the position, having served as music director from 2013-2022. 

The Pasadena Symphony makes up half of the Pasadena Symphony and POPS organization, and officials said Michael Feinstein will continue as conductor of the Pasadena POPS, which presents an annual summer concert series at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

Mitchell — who was born in 1979, raised in Seattle, and now lives in Denver, Colorado with his family, where the family plans to remain — said, “In many ways, joining the Pasadena Symphony as Music Director is really coming full circle for me. So many of our musicians are these iconic studio players whose work I’ve known and loved for decades. To now be able to work with them and experience their artistry in person is a thrill beyond words.”

Information on the Pasadena Symphony is available at www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org.

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