Willis to be Illinois Symphony’s new music director

Posted on: May 30, 2012

In Wednesday’s (5/30) State Journal-Register (Illinois), Brien Murphy writes, “Alastair Willis says he has about ‘300 tasks’ with his new job as music director of the [Springfield and Bloomington-Normal-based] Illinois Symphony Orchestra. But Willis, a frequent guest conductor with orchestras around the world, also says he’s excited about the chance to spend several years working with one group and helping it grow musically and artistically. … ‘To have an orchestra of my own is a whole other kettle of fish,’ he said. ‘I will see these musicians more than once a year. To shape something, to have a vision with the community, that is far more satisfying in the long run.’ Willis was chosen from five finalists to become just the third ISO conductor since 1980. He replaces Karen Lynne Deal, whose contract expired in 2011. … Deal lived in central Illinois while conducting the ISO, but Willis says he plans to stay in Seattle, where he has resided since 2000. … Judith Kurnick, vice president for strategic communication with the League of American Orchestras in New York City, said conductors leading their own groups often continue guest conducting because it exposes them to a wider variety of musical ideas. … That said, [Roger] Hunt, co-head of the conductor search committee, said the ISO anticipates seeing Willis frequently in Springfield and Bloomington-Normal.”

Posted May 30, 2012