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Thursday, February 14, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Classical Music

Youth symphony gets a new music director

Seattle Times music critic

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The Seattle Youth Symphony has named conductor Huw Edwards — a familiar face from his seasons with the orchestra's Marrowstone Music Festival — as its music director, succeeding Jonathan Shames.

The announcement came yesterday at a reception at the home of the Seattle Symphony's music director, Gerard Schwarz.

Welsh-born Edwards, who begins his Seattle post in September at the start of the youth symphony's 60th season, was music director of the Portland Youth Philharmonic Orchestra for the past seven years.

With that orchestra, Edwards toured Canada, Australia and New Zealand and recorded four CDs.

Edwards has been on the faculty of the Marrowstone Music Festival for the past four summers (first at Port Townsend, later in the festival's new location on the Western Washington University campus in Bellingham).

His new post as the orchestra's fifth music director puts him in charge of 1,000 young musicians in the Seattle Youth Symphony and its four training orchestras, the organization's outreach programs and its summer festival.

His job also will require him to balance teaching and artistic functions with discipline and nurturing while fostering the joy of music in young players, many of whom go on to professional careers in music (about 20 percent of Seattle Symphony Orchestra musicians are former youth-symphony players).

Edwards described his new job as "very exciting" and said his goals include "building on musical excellence while building a stronger and broader organization."

Seattle Youth Symphony board President Don Jenkins led the music-director search, which screened more than 200 applicants and lasted more than a year.

Edwards, one of three finalists, was long considered the likely winner because of his youth-orchestra background and his history with the Marrowstone Festival.

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