THE renowned conductor Keitaro Harada will join the Savannah Philharmonic as its Music and Artistic Director in the 2020-21 season, the Philharmonic has announced.
Harada will conduct the 2019-20 seasons’ opening and closing concerts, “while working with an impressive roster of guest conductors and soloists to connect the local audience with the evolving orchestral world,” the Philharmonic says in a statement.
“Harada’s multi-year commitment to The Phil guarantees that the Coastal Empire will be the creative home to one of the most sought-after, ascending conductors in orchestral music,” says a spokesperson.
The 34-year-old Harada will fill the shoes of Peter Shannon, who served in the same role with the Phil for a decade.
Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Harada recently wrapped up his fourth season as Associate Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops.
Harada has recent and upcoming engagements with ensembles such as Houston Symphony, NHK Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Sofia National Opera & Ballet, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, and New Japan Philharmonic.
“Harada’s artistic vision and ebullient personality make him the perfect fit as the next Music and Artistic Director for Savannah Philharmonic,” says Board Chair Rhegan White-Clemm.
His repertoire and performance experience spans genres, including classical symphonic music, chamber works, opera, pops, ballet, film scores, educational and outreach programming.
“Harada places high personal value on the advancement of each musician and ensemble he encounters. He conducted the Savannah Philharmonic and Savannah Music Festival’s co-production of ‘Rhapsody in Blue and the Firebird Suite,’ during which he dazzled the audience and orchestra alike with his talent and passion for excellence throughout each movement,” White-Clemm says.
Harada is a three-time recipient of the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, has been featured at the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, won the Seiji Ozawa Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood Music Festival, and studied with Lorin Maazel and Fabio Luisi at the Castleton and Pacific Musical Festivals, respectively. Valery Gergiev invited him to join the Pacific Music Festival faculty.
“From the moment I started making music with the musicians, I felt an immediate connection. There was passion and excitement from the rehearsals which translated into a beautiful storytelling at the performance,” Harada says.
“The energy on stage and from the audience is something I will never forget. My professional career started 14 years ago in Georgia, my home away from home. I couldn’t be more excited that fate has brought me back to Georgia and I feel so honored to join the Savannah Philharmonic family.” he says.
The Philharmonic’s music director search committee, led by board vice chairman, Scott Lauretti, brought together prominent musicians from the orchestra, community advocates, active philanthropists, and leaders from the area’s arts and cultural organizations.
Reports from the Philharmonic are that in interviews, “Harada impressed committee members and audiences with his vision, enthusiasm, work ethic, professionalism, magnetism and formidable experience.”
“Keitaro Harada is special,” Lauretti says. “He is talented, thoughtful, inspirational and committed. He has demonstrated personal and professional integrity since the first day we met, and we are proud and grateful that he is genuinely excited to join our team. With Kei at the podium and out in the community representing the power of music as a galvanizing force, we are in great shape.”
“Residents and businesses value the Savannah Philharmonic as an asset that greatly enriches our city,” comments Mayor Eddie DeLoach. “The city is proud and fortunate to have world-class music and musicians available for our residents and visitors.”
Harada is married to Yuri Kurashima, who owns Lady Nishida, a women’s fashion line. For seven years, Kurashima played professional tennis on the International Tennis Federation circuit. She has served as an assistant tennis coach at Harvard University.
Harada says he has developed affection for Georgia during his stint as a student at Mercer University and Assistant Conductor of the Macon Symphony Orchestra.