Friday, June 8, 2007

Smith takes posts in Twin Cities

Mark Russell Smith, music director of the Richmond Symphony, has been named artistic director of orchestral studies at the University of Minnesota and director of new-music projects of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. The shared position is a new collaboration between the two organizations.

Smith takes up the Minnesota posts in September. He continues in Richmond through the 2008-09 season.

At the University of Minnesota, he will conduct the University Symphony Orchestra, work with conducting students and teach undergraduate and graduate courses in orchestral studies.

He will conduct six weeks of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra season, focusing on contemporary music, and will plan, program and conduct the orchestra’s "engine408" new-music series.

Smith is the second Richmond Symphony alumnus to move on to conducting the SPCO. Peter Bay was the chamber orchestra’s resident conductor in the 1990s, after serving as associate conductor in Richmond; Bay is now music director of the Austin Symphony. George Manahan doubled as music director in Richmond and chief conductor at the Minnesota Opera in the 1990s; he is now music director of the New York City Opera.

Since joining the Richmond Symphony in 1999, Smith has divided his time between Richmond and the Twin Cities. His wife, Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, is a horn player in the Minnesota Orchestra. The couple and their two sons live in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis.