After eight seasons as music director at the Bear Valley Music Festival, Michael Morgan had established a well-regarded position for himself there, and it was a big blow when he died this past August. Today the festival announced that German conductor Alexander Mickelthwate will step into that role, one of only four directors on the festival’s 54-year history.
Mickelthwate is currently in his third full season as music director of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, where he is widely credited with expanding the artistic scope, audience engagement, and community outreach of the symphony. He’s also been responsible for commissioning new works for the organization and committing the OCP to its first-ever recording project, which will be released on the international Naxos label.
Mickelthwate was formerly music director of the Winnipeg Symphony in Canada, and he has also been associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony. He has guest conducted major symphonies all around the world.
The Bear Valley Music Festival search committee reviewed over 60 applications from across the country before selecting Mickelthwate. Board President Julia Mee commented “We were thrilled and honored to have so many extremely qualified candidates apply to build upon the incredible work done by Michael Morgan. Alexander stood out from the start as someone who had keen insights into the special opportunities and challenges that come with an outdoor music festival … We couldn’t be more excited to have Alexander join us.”In a press release today, Mickelthwate expressed his enthusiasm for the new gig:
“I’m so excited for my position as the new music director of the Bear Valley Music Festival. Such wonderful and smart leadership. Such a stunning place. And to perform music with our fantastic musicians in those surroundings, oh my gosh, what a treat!” said Mickelthwate. “I actually knew Michael Morgan quite well as he was a mentor of mine at the beginning of my career. He was the one conductor I felt comfortable calling with questions. And he was always there with answers. So it is a special honor to stand on his shoulders and to continue his legacy in Bear Valley.”
This summer’s festival kicks off on Friday, July 22 and concludes on Sunday, Aug. 7. Concert details will be announced in early May, and will feature a special celebration of Michael Morgan. More information about the Bear Valley Music Festival can be found at bearvalleymusicfestival.org.