Alex Prior, who sparked an uncommonly deep relationship with Edmonton’s symphony and its audiences during several acclaimed guest appearances since 2014, is the new Chief Conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra beginning with a five-year contract.
The London-born, 24-year-old’s exuberance, vision, and musical excellence have taken him to orchestras from Munich to Seattle, Hong Kong to St. Petersburg. He will return to Edmonton to assume his new role in the 2017/2018 season, during which he will conduct several concerts on various ESO series.
Prior said his decision to choose Edmonton over other suitors was made easy by several factors: “The (ESO’s) players are among the best in North America. The Winspear Centre is among the best venues on the continent. I felt a special chemistry, with those players and in that room, and with Edmontonians.”
“That intangible feeling of making excellent music with like-minded artists in a wondrous place; it’s what a conductor lives for, isn’t it?”
Prior said he was struck during previous stays by Edmonton’s energy, its big spaces, the beauty of its River Valley, and the intelligence of its classical music audiences. His arrival coincides with the Winspear Centre’s push to complete its $53-million addition, a project that fulfills Dr. Francis Winspear’s original vision for the organization with music
participation, learning, and performance spaces for all Edmontonians.
“I’m thrilled to join an organization that is so intentional about inviting all Edmontonians, from every background and circumstance, to experience music, to play it, to be transformed by it.” Winspear Centre CEO Annemarie Petrov said Edmontonians are in for an extended treat when Prior leads the orchestra in 2017/2018 and beyond.
“He’s a remarkable musician, he’s gregarious and exceptionally well-spoken, and a lot of fun. And he already has this marvelous connection with the musicians,” Petrov said.
“Put simply, he’s one-of-a-kind. Edmonton music lovers will look at this era with Alex with fondness and wonder, just as they look at (Music Director Emeritus) Bill Eddins’ tenure here.”
Alexander Prior has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments, both as a conductor and composer. At the age of 13, his ballet Mowgli, commissioned by the Moscow State Ballet, received international critical acclaim. He was the youngest student since Sergei Prokofiev to graduate with distinction as a conductor from the Conservatoire in St. Petersburg at the age of 17. He has been awarded Conducting Fellowships at the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival and has conducted numerous orchestras, including the Seattle Symphony, the Victoria Symphony, and the New World Symphony.