top, l-r: Jesse McCandless, Ryan Little, and Nathan Mo. Bottom, l-r: Isabel Kwon, Chance Gompert, and Jack Bryant. (images courtesy of ASO)

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra announces six new musicians for 2023/24 season

Mark Gresham | 30 MAY 2023

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has announced the addition of six new musicians to their roster for its 2023-24 season: four new tenure-track musicians, including two principal positions, and two one-year, non-tenure track musicians.

The four new tenure-track musicians joining the ASO for its 79th season are principal clarinet Jesse McCandless, principal horn Ryan Little, and section cellists Nathan Mo and Isabel Kwon. McCandless began performing with the ASO in April of this year, and Little will join the Orchestra in June. Mo and Kwon will begin in September.

The two one-year, non-tenure track musicians, who will join the Orchestra in September, are third horn Jack Bryant and bass trombone Chance Gompert.

The rigorous process of filling vacant positions in the ASO includes auditions behind a screen adjudicated by a committee of Orchestra members and music director Nathalie Stutzmann.


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However, the orchestra’s task of hiring new musicians is not done. The list of players in the ASO program booklet indicates that eight more vacancies remain unfilled. Five are listed as “vacant”: assistant concertmaster, principal second violin, principal trombone, assistant principal percussion, and principal librarian. There are also three players listed as on “leave of absence” won tenure-track principal positions at other orchestras: principal cello Ranier Eudeikis is now with San Francisco Symphony, principal bassoon Andrew Brady is now with St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, principal trumpet Stuart Stephenson is now with Dallas Symphony Orchestra. It is standard practice to keep such players on the roster and listed as on leave of absence until they complete their first year in their new position.

“We’re in the audition process for nearly all of the positions you mention,” said ASO executive director Jennifer Barlament in response to an e-mail inquiry from EarRelevant. “Most orchestras experienced retirements and change in their ranks during the pandemic for a variety of reasons. We are excited that our new Music Director can play such a role in hiring for these key appointments.”

The process of replacement, in any case, takes time and effort. Typically, the associate chair player also assumes the role and responsibilities of “acting principal.” For assistant chair positions, the musician in the next most prominent chair in the section typically assumes the “acting assistant” role.

As for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s six new musicians cited, you will be able to find all their photos and biographies on the ASO website under “About the ASO” > “Conductors & Musicians,” along with all of their ASO colleagues before the start of the new season. (McCandless is already listed.)

We welcome them all to Atlanta!

About the author:
Mark Gresham is publisher and principal writer of EarRelevant. He began writing as a music journalist over 30 years ago, but has been a composer of music much longer than that. He was the winner of an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for music journalism in 2003.

Read more by Mark Gresham.
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