TRAVERSE CITY — The dynamic conductor credited with taking the Traverse Symphony Orchestra from a community to a professional orchestra will claim the podium at least through the 2016-17 season.
TSO Music Director Kevin Rhodes has signed on to lead the orchestra for another three years. The orchestra’s board, staff and musicians were “thrilled” with the decision, said TSO executive director Krista Cooper.
“The orchestra is so re-energized right now from an artistic and a volunteer standpoint. The community support and sponsorships have increased, ticket sales have increased. We have this fantastic momentum right now. With having Kevin for another three years it’s going to launch us to unprecedented levels,” she said.
Rhodes assumed the role of music director in 2001 and quickly led the orchestra to a new level of artistic excellence. His initial contract was renewed and extended several times.
TSO board president Thomas Haase declined to say whether Rhodes’ current contract included a salary increase or whether the decision to offer it was unanimous. But he said seeking other candidates for the position was not considered.
“Since he arrived he’s been elevating the performance and the capabilities in repertoire. Last year we had some concerts that wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago," Haase said. "I think we always want to keep our options open, but as long as Kevin continues to make this happen and we see performances of the level we’ve enjoyed, there’s not a lot to say there.”
Rhodes said his decision to stay in Traverse City was based on several factors including the feeling that he is making a difference.
“Together the musicians, staff and board of the TSO have grown the organization into what musicians who know the scene in the state of Michigan better than I say is one of the finest in the state — certainly far exceeding our budget class and light years ahead of anything a community of our size has virtually anywhere in the country,” he said in an email from Paris, where he is conducting the Paris Opera Ballet.