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Orchestra names Jeffrey Kahane director of Sarasota Music Festival

The renowned conductor and pianist will be the third director in the festival's 53-year history.

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  • | 11:23 a.m. July 28, 2016
Jeffrey Kahane. Courtesy image.
Jeffrey Kahane. Courtesy image.
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The Sarasota Orchestra announced today it has appointed Jeffrey Kahane music director of the Sarasota Music Festival, an annual three-week program of the Sarasota Orchestra that brings prestigious faculty artists and 60 pre-professional college-aged students to Sarasota from around the world to study and perform.

Kahane will begin his three-year contract Aug. 1, making him the third director in the festival's 53-year history.

Jeffrey Kahane. Courtesy image.
Jeffrey Kahane. Courtesy image.

Kahane is a renowned conductor and pianist with a history of leadership in accomplished orchestras. He currently serves as artistic director of ChamberFest at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University and will complete his 20-year tenure as music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at the end of the 2016/2017 season. He previously served as music director of the Colorado Symphony and the Santa Rosa Symphony.

"Jeffery Kahane is the perfect next leader for festival," says Sarasota Orchestra President and CEO Joseph McKenna. "He's very well regarded and an outstanding musician. He has an excellent educational pedigree and commitment to education, which the festival is heavily focused on. He's a giant of a musician, and we're glad landed in Sarasota for the next chapter of the festival."

"We believe his international reputation as a conductor, pianist and educator is a perfect fit for the festival and will help advance our aspirations for the festival’s growth and evolution, as well as Sarasota’s reputation as a cultural destination,” said Anne Folsom-Smith, board chair of the Sarasota Orchestra, in a release. 

The Sarasota Music Festival was co-founded by Paul Wolfe in 1965. Wolfe served as director for 42 years, followed by Robert Levin for 10. Levin announced in April 2015 he would step down as director, but he would remain on the faculty to teach and perform, prompting a search for a new director.

Kahane's first experience with the Sarasota Music Festival was as a piano faculty member in 2015.

"I was quite touched by the exceptional educational opportunities, the impressive faculty and the truly heartwarming reception by Sarasota audiences," said Kahane in a release. "There is no question that Sarasota is a special place with a vibrant arts community."

Kahane will be in Sarasota this fall and spring for the planning process for the 2017 festival, which will run June 5-24. 


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