Music Director Candidates

This season and through the 2020-2021 season, we invite six Guest Conductors to join us in La Porte and Michigan City for a week for one of three subscription concerts each season. During this time, they will tour our beautiful community, make a school visit, attend a Friends of the Symphony luncheon, be the guest of honor at our meet-and-greet events, and of course meet with the LCSO Selection Committee. The visit will end with the Guest Conductor’s LCSO concert event. Each Maestro will bring their own styles and approaches to the podium, and the audience and other valuable stakeholders will have the opportunity to evaluate and report their perspectives on the performances.

Audience members will be given the opportunity to provide their feedback through surveys and here in the comment box for each conductor! We value our patrons and believe that being a part of the process is both valuable and necessary to choose the BEST candidate for the next LCSO Music Director. Over the next two seasons, we invite you to join us in celebrating the uniqueness of each guest conductor by becoming season ticket holders, attending concerts and special events, and staying connected with us through social media.

Wilbur Lin

Recently appointed to assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony, Wilbur Lin will be serving as the assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestras in addition to continuing his work as the artistic director of the summer seasons of the Chamber Philharmonic Taipei.

Lin began his musical education at the age of five. In 2008, the Taiwanese-American conductor founded a student orchestra, the Chamber Philharmonic Taipei, which is now a professional chamber orchestra with an active annual summer season funded by both the Arts Council of Taipei and the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture.

Lin briefly worked as assistant conductor at Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Taiwan Symphony orchestras. He regularly works with Chamber Philharmonic Taipei and has conducted the Manchester Camerata, MAV Symphony Orchestra (Budapest), Taipei Philharmonic, Taiwan Symphony, Orquestra de Cadaqués (Spain), Missouri Symphony, and Windsor Symphony (Canada) orchestras. As a pianist, Lin coached and performed with the Indianapolis Opera, IU Opera Theater, and Reimagining Opera for Kids, in addition to his freelance work as a vocal coach and collaborator.

A recent graduate of Riccardo Muti’s Italian Opera Academy, Lin’s recent highlights include conducting Verdi’s Macbeth at Teatro Alighieri (Ravenna, Italy), Die Zauberflöte with the Winter Harbor Festival & Opera (Winter Harbor, Maine), and an appearance with Canada’s Windsor Symphony Orchestra, guest conducting El Salvador’s National Youth Orchestra, and the conclusion of Chamber Philharmonic Taipei’s seventh concert in its Bach Cantata Series.

Lin held the position of Lord Rhodes Scholar from 2013 to 2014, was a two-time recipient of Mortimer Furber Prize for Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), and holds a doctoral degree from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Lin has studied with Arthur Fagen and David Effron at IU, Clark Rundell and Mark Heron at RNCM, and Apo Hsu at National Taiwan Normal University. He has also received conducting coaching with Riccardo Muti, Sir Mark Elder, Vasily Petrenko, Juanjo Mena, Jac van Steen, Mark Stringer, Paul McCreesh, and Helmuth Rilling.

Christopher Fashun

an incredibly diverse and versatile conductor, educator, and performer. An Assistant Professor of Music at Hope College, he serves as the Director of Orchestras, the Music Director of the Brazilian Music Ensemble, teaches applied percussion, and is an Instructor of Instrumental Music Education.

In addition to his activities at Hope College, Dr. Fashun is an active guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and percussionist. Notable engagements have included the Holland Symphony Orchestra, Elkhart Symphony Orchestra, St. Ambrose University Community Symphony Orchestra, the University of Iowa Philharmonia and All-University String Orchestra. Dr. Fashun has conducted the Symphony String Orchestra at the Iowa IMEA Conference for the All-State Iowa Junior Honors String Orchestra Festival Concert and the Midwest Mennonite Festival Orchestra and Concert Band. He has served on the music faculties at St. Ambrose University and Goshen College and has directed orchestras, wind bands, jazz ensembles, percussion ensembles, and drum lines at the secondary level.

A passionate educator, Dr. Fashun’s versatility and eclectic background allow him to work in areas of orchestral, percussion, and world music. As a conductor, he is frequently invited to guest conduct, clinic, and adjudicate orchestras at the professional, collegiate, and secondary levels. His expertise and knowledge in Brazilian music serve general music educators and elementary schools alike. As the founder and music director of the Hope College Brazilian Music Ensemble, Dr. Fashun presents frequently at music education conferences and the Brazilian Music Ensemble performs educational outreach assemblies for elementary schools during the academic year. He has concentrated his study of world percussion in Brazilian and Afro-Brazilian music and dance over the past 15 years. Most notably, his teachers include Mestre Mario Pam, Mestre Jorge Alabe, Michael Spiro, Mark Lamson, Curtis Pierre, Jorge Martins, and Scott Kettner.

Most recently, Dr. Fashun was a 2018 recipient of a U.S. Postdoctoral Fulbright Award in All Disciplines and will be living and researching Afro-Brazilian music in Salvador da Bahia in 2019. His project will focus on the dissemination of Afro-Brazilian music and culture in the city of Salvador da Bahia.

An accomplished percussionist and violist, he has several years of orchestral and chamber music experience and has enjoyed success in both areas as a soloist by winning three concerto competitions, one on viola and two on marimba.

His research in conducting combines developing musicianship from the podium and health and wellness for music educators. When he’s not making music, he is either cycling, paddle boarding, or practicing Pilates and enjoying the fabulous beaches in Holland with his wife and daughter.

Russell Ger

Russell Ger is a young Australian conductor based in New York. Winner of the prestigious Brian Stacey Memorial Trust Award for Emerging Australian Conductors in 2014, Mr. Ger has a broad repertoire that spans orchestral, operatic, and choral music, which he has conducted across North America and his home country.
In September of 2016, Mr. Ger began his tenure as Music Director of the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra in the Hudson Valley. Here he conducts six subscription concerts each season, in addition to Family and Pops concerts. He has successfully elevated the artistry and dramatically increased community engagement, resulting in consistent near-capacity audiences.

Mr. Ger toured North America with renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, promoting a recording for Sony of Jewish art-music made in 2012. Performances took place at the Hollywood Bowl with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic before an audience of 10,000, and at the Barclays Center arena in New York for an audience of 6,000. The tour also drew capacity houses at the Boca Raton Arts Festival, Boston Celebrity Series at Symphony Hall, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Long Island, and Toronto. A PBS Special aired in 2014.

For his post-graduate study, Mr. Ger received a scholarship to pursue a Masters of Music in Orchestral Conducting at The Boston Conservatory. He graduated top of his class in 2010. And in 2013, Mr. Ger was one of four Finalists from around the world for the prestigious 2nd International Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprenticeship.
As a proud alumnus of Symphony Australia, the leading conductor-training program in the country, Mr. Ger had the opportunity to work with Australia’s top orchestras. Weeklong residencies were maintained several times a year with the Adelaide, Melbourne, Queensland, and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras.

Mr. Ger is committed to nurturing the next generation of musicians. As a conductor for the Norwalk Youth Symphony in Connecticut, he works with young people on a weekly basis. He additionally serves as Music Director of the Park East Synagogue in New York City, where he works with the most highly esteemed living Cantor, Yitzchak Meir Helfgot. Mr. Ger is married to Kirsten Hicks, a wonderful Australian woman whom he met in NYC where they both reside with their new baby boy, Caleb Reyn Ger.

Alexander Platt

Alexander Platt has built a unique career spanning the worlds of symphony, chamber music, and opera. He is Music Director of both the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Philharmonic, and spends his summers in Woodstock, New York as Music Director of the Maverick Concerts, the oldest summer chamber-music festival in America. He also serves as the artistic director for music at the Westport Arts Center. He also spent twelve seasons as Resident Conductor and Music Advisor at Chicago Opera Theater, where he led the Chicago premieres of such landmark 20th-century operas as Britten’s Death In Venice, John Adams’ Nixon in China, Shostakovich’s Moscow Paradise, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Brook’s The Tragedy of Carmen, the Tony Kushner/Maurice Sendak Brundibar, the first full staging of Schoenberg’s Erwartung, and the world-premiere recording of Kurka’s The Good Soldier Schweik — all to high acclaim in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Opera News, Opera Canada, and both the Chicago papers. The former chief conductor of the Racine Symphony, the Boca Raton Symphonia, the Minnesota Philharmonic and the Marion, Indiana Philharmonic, he began his career as the Apprentice Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Opera, where he earned universal acclaim for his conducting of Colin Graham’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

A graduate of Yale College, King’s College Cambridge (where he was a British Marshall Scholar) and conducting fellowships at both Aspen and Tanglewood, he has guest-conducted the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Illinois Philharmonic, the Freiburg Philharmonic in Germany, the Aalborg Symphony in Denmark, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, Camerata Chicago, the Banff Festival, the Aldeburgh Festival, and the Houston, Charlotte, Columbus and Indianapolis Symphonies. In 2013 he made his debut at the Ravinia Festival, the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, to high praise in the Chicago Tribune. He has recorded for Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio, the South-West German Radio and the BBC, and his Cedille Records disc with Rachel Barton of Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy is still often heard on radio stations throughout the world.

Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia

Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia is the Music Director and founder of VIVE! Ensemble. Since 2015 they have performed Kaija Saariaho’s Opera Emilie, the chamber versions of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, plus many other compositions—standard literature and new works alike— including several premieres. VIVE! was invited in 2017 to perform in the annual New Music Gathering (celebrated in a different US city every year), were featured in the Toledo Museum of Art Great Performances series, and were engaged for a tour that took them to Cincinnati, Nashville, and Dallas in the summer of 2018.

Ms. Diaz Garcia has conducted orchestras in North America, South America and Europe, and has participated in the festivals MIMO in Sao Paulo (Brazil), National Music Festival (USA), Pacific Region International Music Academy (Canada),and the International Conductors Festival (Ukraine). Ms. Diaz Garcia has been selected to participate in prestigious masterclasses with Edo de Waart, Neeme Jarvi, Kenneth Kiesler, and Paavo Jarvi, among others. She has received conducting degrees from Bard College, New York, and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In 2017 she was the only conductor invited as artist-in-residence/conductor at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity (Canada) to work with the Ensemble Evolution and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and was invited to return for the 2018 session. In the summer of 2018 was invited as assistant conductor to Kenneth Kiesler for the Music in the Alps Festival in Austria and in 2015 and 2016 she was conductor of the Union Symphony Orchestra (North Carolina) Pops on the Square series.

Ms. Diaz Garcia is a strong advocate for new music, commissioning new works and having performed many premieres. She has performed operas by Amy Beth Kirsten and Kaija Saariaho in addition to standard repertory including Puccini’s La Boheme and Verdi’s La Traviata among others. With PRAECEPTA —an organization of young American composers— she has been conductor for the past three seasons of their yearly micro-operas performances featuring emerging composers. For the past three seasons she has been conductor in the annual New Music Festival organized by the Mid American Centre for Contemporary Music. In addition to opera and orchestral works she has performed ballet and wind ensemble repertoire, and was guest conductor of Bowling Green State University’s premiere Wind Symphony during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Ms. Diaz Garcia began her musical career as an oboist and pianist, receiving advanced degrees in both instruments, playing in orchestras in Spain, Germany and England, and recording as soloist for the Spanish Television. She was awarded a tenured position from the Ministry of Education to teach oboe in National Conservatories in Spain, and held professorships in Murcia and Madrid. In the United States she has taught conducting at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and at Bowling Green State University. She has also taught a number of other courses at BGSU, including Aural Training and Music Appreciation.

Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia currently serves as Conducting Fellow/Assistant Conductor of Orchestras at BGSU where she also conducts the New Music Ensemble. As a doctoral candidate she is writing a dissertation that focuses on aspects of time in contemporary music. She has received the Katzner Award as well as Pro Musica Scholarship Award, both in recognition of her outstanding academic and artistic work during her doctoral studies.

Carolyn Watson

A major prizewinner at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest, Carolyn Watson was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival where she studied with David Zinman. She has conducted orchestras throughout Europe including the Brandenburg Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Kodály Philharmonic, Savaria Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Operetta Theatre, Bulgarian State Opera Bourgas and in Russia, the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic. In 2017 Carolyn was one of six conductors selected for the elite Dallas Opera Institute for Women Conductors and has participated in master classes with Marin Alsop, Peter Eötvös, Yoel Levi, Martyn Brabbins and Alex Polishchuk.

From 2013-15 Carolyn held the prestigious position of Music Director of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, having also conducted the Dallas Opera Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra and World Youth Symphony Orchestra since moving to the US in 2013 and will make her Austin Symphony debut in the forthcoming season. Winner of the 2015 American Prize in Orchestral Performance and Runner-up for The American Prize in Conducting, Carolyn is also an enthusiastic music educator and currently serves as Director of Orchestral Studies at The University of Kansas whilst continuing to enjoy an active freelance career throughout the US, Europe and Australia. Carolyn conducted musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic in Interaktion 2010 and was Musical Assistant at the Staatsoper Berlin in 2012 for Infektion!, a festival of modern theatre celebrating the works of John Cage. She was resident at the Israeli National Opera during 2009 and assisted Sir Charles Mackerras on his final two productions at The Royal Opera, Covent Garden and Glyndebourne the following year.

Carolyn is the recipient of a number of prestigious national and international awards for young conductors including the Brian Stacey Award for emerging Australian conductors, Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize awarded via the Australian Music Foundation in London, Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award and Berlin New Music Opera Award and the Nelly Apt Conducting Scholarship. She is the beneficiary of support from the American Australian Association’s Dame Joan Sutherland Fund and a Sheila Pryor Study Grant from the Australian Opera Auditions Committee.

Featured in a national conductor preview with the Sydney Symphony, Carolyn in 2011, was also Assistant Conductor for the inaugural Australian World Orchestra concert season in Sydney working with Simone Young. Also during 2011 she was Associate Conductor of the Tasmania Discovery Orchestra and Assistant Chorus Master of Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. In 2008 Carolyn conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra during the Orkney Conducting Course before returning home to conduct the World Youth Day Orchestra on the occasion of the Pope’s arrival in Australia for a live audience of one hundred thousand and a worldwide-televised audience of some five million people.

Carolyn holds a PhD in Performance (Conducting) from the University of Sydney where the subject of her doctoral thesis was Gesture as Communication: The Art of Carlos Kleiber.