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Classical Notes

SPCO & U of M make a joint hire

Posted at 10:11 AM on June 8, 2007 by Don Lee

Two years ago the University of Minnesota and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra announced a plan to share a conductor. At the time they hoped to have someone in place last fall, but it's taken till now to find the right person. It's Mark Russell Smith, music director of the Richmond Symphony.

For the U, he'll head a newly developed orchestral studies program. For the SPCO, he'll direct new music projects.

Smith will start his new jobs in September. He already lives here part-time; his wife, Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, is a horn player for the Minnesota Orchestra.

And what do you make of this coincidence? Reporter/producer Karl Gehrke points out that Smith's associate conductor in Richmond, Sarah Hatsuko Hicks, is an assistant conductor with the Minnesota Orchestra. Hicks' husband, Paul LaFollette, is a member of the Richmond horn section.