Familiar faces take the reins of the symphony orchestra | News, Sports, Jobs

Two familiar faces will lead the Altoona Symphony Orchestra into its 94th season, officials announced Thursday night. Maestro Nicholas “Pseudo” Palmer has been named musical director and conductor while Janey Schwind, clarinetist, musician manager and music librarian, has been named the new general manager.

The promotions come amid a transitional 93rd season and are designed to “strengthen the operational and artistic leadership of the cultural arts organization”, said Board Chairman C. David Kimmel of Altoona.

“Ms. Schwind’s fresh and creative perspective, exciting ideas and experience as a musician and people manager, coupled with Maestro Palmer’s talent and world-class artistic vision, will undoubtedly result in exciting things for the Altoona Symphony Orchestra. said Kimmel. “The Board is confident that the leadership team will bring the motivation and energy essential to the continued success of the organization. They speak the same language and will form a great partnership.

Palmer has served as artistic advisor and principal guest conductor since the resignation in May of Maestra Teresa Cheung, who served 13 years. Palmer had a 25-year association with the ASO – serving as Music Director and Bandleader from 1996 to 2007 and as Principal Pop Bandleader since 2016.

Schwind succeeds Rick Vanevenhoven, who served as executive director for six months before stepping down after the holiday gig in December. Contacted Thursday, he explained that he resigned after discovering that the position required more time than expected.


“I think when I was looking for something to do, I was looking for something a little more part-time, but I learned to love the symphony, so I decided to move from a paid position to full-time to a volunteer,” said Vanevenhoven.

Schwind agreed with Vanevenhoven that the transition has been positive.

In a phone interview, Schwind of Hollidaysburg said: “it’s something I was supposed to do” and says she is “confident” she can handle the new functions as she retains her human resource and music library management roles, which she has held since 2020. She has been performing with the symphony orchestra since 2019.

Originally from Altoona, she said she is “truly honored” to be the new executive director.

“My earliest memories of love for music undoubtedly come from the ASO concerts with my grandmother, Jane Stowell. I am delighted to be able to carry on the great traditions of this orchestra in a new capacity.

Schwind previously served as Director of Junior Orchestras and Assistant Director of Senior Orchestras for the Hollidaysburg Area School District and operates a private clarinet studio. She is an adjunct professor of music at Penn State Altoona. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in clarinet performance from Penn State.

“As a passionate music educator, the greatest joys of my life have been sharing music with my students over the years and watching it enhance their lives in so many crucial and transformative ways,” she said.

Schwind said she was thrilled to be able to use her passion to better the community through the joy of music.

“I am especially excited and honored to continue to work with Maestro Nick Palmer and my orchestra colleagues to bring new and exciting programming to our region,” she added.

Palmer will continue to be musical director of the Lafayette Symphony in Indiana as well as the North Charleston Pops in South Carolina. He is in his 25th season as conductor of the Evening Under the Stars festival orchestra in his native Massachusetts.

“I am delighted to expand my role within the ASO at a crucial time in the development of the organization. It is a wonderful orchestra and a supportive community and I look forward to working closely with Janey Schwind, as well as the staff and Board, to develop new initiatives to continue to drive the ASO”, Palmer said in the statement.

In addition to conducting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and others, Palmer has been guest conductor in Europe, Mexico and Latin America. He has also received several Gramophone and Billboard awards over a long recording career, most recently with the London Philharmonic at Abbey Road Studios.

Palmer graduated with honors from Harvard University, earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music, and earned a doctorate in orchestral conducting from the University of Iowa along with other studies. at the Juilliard School, Pierre Monteux Domaine School, Aspen Music School, the Sandpoint Festival and the Accademia Chigiana in Italy.

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