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After 30 years, the Rockford Symphony Orchestra has passed the baton

Yvonne Boose

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra has a new music director.

Yaniv Attar was one of nine finalists who auditioned for the top spot. He replaces maestro Steven Larsen who held the position for three decades. Attar said he looks forward to his new role.

“I feel honored and grateful because I think maestro Larsen really leaves a great legacy,” he said.

Attar said the selection process took some time.

“The process is like speed dating in slow motion,” he explained. “Because you get all the conductors, and I had the – I don’t want to say disadvantage – I was the first one. So, I had the longest to wait.”

Mayor Tom McNamara spoke during the press conference. He said the selection process was awesome.

“The amount of time and energy that has went into this with more than 200 people applying to be part of this prestigious organization,” he said, “and then to let the community play such a critical and engaged role - I've not seen something like that in the selection of a director.”

New RSO music director Yaniv Attar and RSO executive director Julie Thomas.
Yvonne Boose
New RSO music director Yaniv Attar and RSO executive director Julie Thomas.

The community helped choose the new music director by filling out surveys after viewing audition concerts.

The RSO search for a new leader started in late 2019.

Attar is currently the music director of the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra and the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra. He has studied with Israel Edelson in Jerusalem, at the Julliard School in New York, and at the Royal College of Music in London. The new maestro will lead the RSO starting this fall.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.
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