FM Symphony names Christopher Zimmerman as new Music Director

The Fargo Moorhead Symphony has a new Music Director.  Christopher Zimmerman was selected from among 140 conductors who applied for the job.

FM Symphony Executive Director Linda Boyd said five candidates were chosen to audition during the just completed concert season.

There were each put through a grueling two week test, working with the orchestra and spending time with local students and business leaders to test their ability to  work well with the community.

But in the end, Boyd said “It came down to music and artistic vision,” and Zimmerman was the unanimous choice of the Symphony Board of Directors.

The Fargo Moorhead Symphony's new Music Director, Christopher Zimmerman

Zimmerman currently is music director for the Fairfax Virginia Symphony Orchestra.  Zimmerman signed a three year contract with the FMSO and  will continue to live in the Washington, DC area with his wife and two teenage children, commuting to Fargo Moorhead for the five masterwork concerts each season.

Zimmerman says the Fairfax orchestra is about the same size as the Fargo Moorhead orchestra.

During his two week audition in Fargo Moorhead,  the orchestra responded well to his direction, Zimmerman said.

He hopes to create concerts that will move people, and bring more people to the concert hall.  Symphony audiences are shrinking, something Zimmerman attributes to the growing entertainment options.  He thinks a fresh approach to music is the key to connecting with audiences, but filling the concert hall might be more about marketing than music , Zimmerman said.

Selling the symphony experience  to the community, working with schools and businesses,  will be part of his job as music director.

Born and raised just outside of London, Zimmerman moved to the states to attend Yale, and get his masters degree from the University of Michigan.

He was an apprentice with the Toronto symphony and assistant conductor to Vaclav Neumann and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

Zimmerman was named  a winner of the American conducting prize in 2011 .

The previous FMSO music director,  Bernard Rubenstein, retired in 2011.

 *** Thanks to Dan Gunderson for this report.