The Juneau Symphony’s president Sarah McNair-Grove stepped down on June 5, and board member Stan Lujan was elected to take her place on June 7. One of Lujan’s new duties will be looking for guest conductors for the 2018-19 season; music director Troy Quinn announced on June 1 that he has accepted the position of music director of the Venice Symphony in Florida and will only remain until the end of the current season.
The Capital City Weekly caught up with the new Juneau Symphony president to learn about him and his vision for the organization.
CCW: What’s your background with music and the Juneau Symphony?
Stan Lujan: My wife Amy and I moved to Juneau when I retired from the Superintendency of Nome Public Schools in 2008. I first moved to Alaska in 1978, and I lived and worked as an educator and school administrator in Kotlik, False Pass, Fairbanks, Aniak, Barrow and Nome, but I’d never lived in Southcentral or Juneau. Amy and I met nearly 30 years ago when I left Alaska for a few years and we were both studying for our Masters of Business Administration degrees at UC-Berkeley. We chose Juneau in 2008 because of the great community of wonderful people, the small-city size, the natural beauty and the arts community. Recently Juneau was listed in the top 10 small cities in the U.S. for creative vibrancy, and sixth out of 933 cities (of all sizes) nationwide for creative vitality — very impressive! It is also one of the most volunteer-oriented and generous communities I have been a part of.
Amy, a cellist since 3rd grade, was excited to have the opportunity to play with the Juneau Symphony (JSO) and enjoy the many other arts opportunities in town. She has also enjoyed playing with various other music ensembles around town. I’ve loved listening to music all my life and have done some singing and guitar strumming. But I was surprised when then-JSO board president Susan Burke, a retired attorney and the board president at that time, quickly recruited me to join the JSO board. Susan explained that it’s critical to have “worker bees” with strong administrative and management skills on the board since the musicians themselves volunteer so much of their time for rehearsals and performances. I was honored to serve on the board with president Burke and later president Bev Smith, who did an excellent job of leadership during the transition from the music directorship of Kyle Wylie-Pickett to Troy Quinn. In 2013, I transitioned to the Juneau Symphony Foundation Board, which administers this critical and growing financial support fund for the Symphony. I have greatly enjoyed working under the leadership of Bob Storer and Bob Mitchell on the Foundation Board. In April of this year, I was elected to re-join the Juneau Symphony Board and was selected as president after the resignation of Sarah McNair-Grove in early June. I still maintain my membership on the Juneau Foundation Board as well.
Throughout our 10 years in Juneau, Amy and I have greatly enjoyed hosting visiting musicians from around the world, for JSO and Juneau Jazz & Classics. We’ve made lifelong friends and have enjoyed some fantastic food, fellowship and a few private concerts.
CCW: Who are your favorite classical composers?
Lujan: I love the music of Mozart, Bernstein, Vivaldi, Chopin and Beethoven! Troy Quinn convinced many of us that John Williams is one of the great contemporary classical composers, and I too am a fan of great movie music.
CCW: Who are your favorite contemporary musicians and artists?
Lujan: I love supporting our talented local Juneau musicians, including members of the JSO and Juneau Student Symphony, Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), K-12 student groups, Juneau Cabaret, the Orpheus Project and Juneau Lyric Opera (JLO). The Juneau Jazz & Classics festival in May is one of my favorite times of the year. On my Spotify playlist as I buzz around town in my Mini Cooper, you’ll find me getting pumped up by anything from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to tunes from my Yoga Centergy class, including Sara Bareilles and Taylor Swift.
CCW: What will be your duties as president with the Juneau Symphony?
Lujan: The JSO president provides leadership for our Board, Executive Director, Music Director and other staff to fulfill the mission of the Juneau Symphony, which is “to give local musicians a platform to perform and develop musically, to provide live, high quality symphonic music for the community, and to offer musical opportunities and support for youth.” The mission is fulfilled through our education programs, such as Juneau Student Symphony, the Carnegie Hall Link-up concert for all Juneau School District 5th graders, and our youth solo competition; five concert weekends; and other events throughout the year. As you may know, our wonderful music director, Troy Quinn, has taken on new responsibilities as the music director for the Venice Symphony in Florida. Consequently, he has chosen not to renew his contract with the Juneau Symphony. However, Troy, will be assisting in this transition as an artistic adviser, in conjunction with the board and our executive director Joe Davis-Fleming. We are now looking for guest conductors to support our four concerts coming up this year.
I’m so excited by the conversations I’ve been having about the possibilities for fantastic programs for next year. We plan to have the season program in place within the next few weeks, with our first concert weekend of the 2018-2019 season on Nov. 10-11.
Next, we’ll launch the search process for our new music director. In 2013-2014, a search committee reviewed applications from around the world and selected three finalists to lead audition concerts during the 2014-2015 concert season. Troy Quinn was selected as our music director and provided us with three great seasons through 2018. We’ll launch a similar search committee process within a few months and will be soliciting feedback from all stakeholders in the Juneau Symphony community.
CCW: What’s your vision for the Juneau Symphony, both long-term and for the upcoming season?
Lujan: As president of a great organization that will soon be approaching its 60th anniversary, I want to be a leader who takes JSO into its future on solid footing. We’ve had great leadership in the past to build on, both on the board and through our music directors and concert masters. Our talented musicians and the fantastic community support we receive makes it all possible. Juneau Symphony is just one critical part of Juneau’s art community, and I am excited to continue working with our many partner organizations, as we build the new Juneau Arts and Culture Center, focus on quality, present exciting programs season-to-season and take Juneau’s proud arts legacy into the future.
• Clara Miller is the Capital City Weekly managing editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.