The Columbia Orchestra Board of Directors announced that Jason Love is stepping down from his position as Music Director effective June 30, 2023. He has served as the Orchestra’s conductor since 1999.
During his 24 years with the organization, the orchestra has more than doubled in size. Under his direction, the orchestra averages eleven classical concerts per season as well as two pops concerts, educational concerts, and chamber performances. In the fall of 2022, the Orchestra presented a free Classical concert at Chrysalis at Merriweather Park, an outdoor venue, with an audience of more than 1200 attendees.
Board of Directors President, Melissa Sandlin Gahagan said, “Jason has been an important part of our orchestra, organization, and community for many years and I am sad to see that he will not hold the same role, but at the same time, happy that he is embarking on a new journey – creating opportunities to make an impact in new ways.”
In addition to masterworks such as Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, Love has also brought the works of new composers Anna Clyne, Clarice Assad, Carlos Simon, and many others to the Columbia, Maryland community.
Orchestra member, Laura Benning said, "I have been a member of The Columbia Orchestra since 2018 and have enjoyed and been challenged by Jason's programming choices. His kindness and generosity are equal to his massive musical talent. The level to which he brings this all-volunteer orchestra is so high, we could often be mistaken for a professional orchestra."
During the pandemic, Love was responsible for incredibly creative programming which brought the music of the orchestra into many homes. The “At Home Summer Series” which premiered in July of 2020 featured interviews with composers, arrangers, and former artists along with recorded performances of the Columbia Orchestra. “Ask Jason” kept patron participation high as the maestro answered submitted questions covering varying musical topics from selecting program music to the role of the concertmaster. The popular “Backstage Peeks” shared video footage of earlier concerts shot from behind the scenes along with interesting program notes about the performance, the work, or the composer, presented by the conductor. Love has received numerous accolades during his tenure including the prestigious American Prize for Orchestral Programming, a Peabody Heritage Award for Outstanding Contributions to Music in Maryland, and a "Howie" Outstanding Artist Award for the impact his work with the Orchestra has had in its community and beyond.
"The idea of leaving the orchestra I love so much and who makes me feel so loved is more than a little scary," says Love. "They've been my focus for about as long as I can remember. But if I turn to some other interests now, I feel very confident this orchestra has such a strong identity and proud history they will attract a new Music Director who will help them reach the next generation."
"In my years with them, the musicians have been so dedicated that our attendees hear the same kind of repertoire you'd hear at the New York Philharmonic or London Symphony, played with just as much passion and energy. I look back at their performances of The Rite of Spring, Mahler's Second Symphony, Beethoven's Ninth, plus all the new pieces and commissions and think, this isn't just a great community orchestra, it's just a great orchestra."
About The Columbia Orchestra
Organized in the fall of 1977, the Columbia Orchestra has performed throughout Howard County, Maryland for more than four decades. Originally known as the Columbia Chamber Orchestra, the membership expanded in 1988 to include winds and percussion. Music Director Jason Love took the podium in 1999, quickly winning the hearts of orchestra members and audience alike with his humor, generosity, and consummate musicianship. Under his baton, The Baltimore Sun named the Columbia Orchestra “Howard County’s premier ensemble for instrumental music.” During the 2016-2017 Season the orchestra expanded its range of musical offerings beyond symphony orchestra and chamber concerts to also include jazz performances. The performances were made possible by bringing the Columbia Jazz Band under the Columbia Orchestra umbrella as a Partner Organization to presents its Jazz series in tandem with the Columbia Orchestra’s other series. The Columbia Orchestra reaches more than 11,000 area residents annually through full orchestra concerts, chamber music recitals, and educational initiatives. The Washington Post has hailed the organization as “a pillar of the local arts community.”
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