Meridian Symphony Orchestra embarked on a new era Saturday night, introducing a new music director – Maestro Peter Rubardt – and a new season of music.
While the conductor is most visible during orchestra performances, there are other "principal" players. Among the instrument groups and within each group of instruments, there is a generally accepted hierarchy. Every instrumental group (or section) has a principal who is generally responsible for leading the group and playing orchestral solos.
Of the 70 members of the Meridian Symphony Orchestra, 17 are known as principal players: Jenny Gregoire, Concertmaster; Brian Cheesman, Principal Percussion; Sarah Crocker, Harp Principal; Charles Gates, Principal Trumpet; Jorge Iván González, Principal Second Violin; Sharon Lebsack, Principal Flute; Hsiaopei Lee, Viola Principal; Heild Lucas, Principal Horn; Marcos Machado, Double Bass, Principal; Patricia Malone, Principal Oboist; Wilbur Moreland, Principal Clarinetist; Laura Noah, Principal Timpanist; Richard Perry, Principal Tuba; Alexander Russakovsky, Cello Principal; Theresa Sanchez, Principal Keyboardist; Clifton Taylor, Principal Trombone; and Jon Wenberg, Bassoon Principal.
Following are the bios of MSO's new music director, concertmaster and principal players:
Maestro Peter Rubardt
Peter Rubardt, MSO's newly appointed music director, is also in his 16th season as music director of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, where his tenure has been distinguished with artistic excellence on the stage and passionate support from the audience and the community.
Rubardt initiated pops concerts, family concerts, and a series of chamber orchestra concerts in area churches, broadening the base of support and increasing the orchestra’s recognition throughout the community. He played a central role in the successful renovation of the orchestra’s home, the historic Pensacola Saenger Theatre, and spearheaded the organization’s recent endowment campaign. In addition to his work in Pensacola, Rubardt’s recent debuts include the Fort Worth Symphony, the El Paso Symphony Orchestra (followed by an immediate reengagement), the Meridian Symphony Orchestra, and Japan’s Yamagata Orchestra.
Prior to his appointment in Pensacola, Rubardt served four seasons as associate conductor of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, which followed three seasons as resident conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. He has also conducted the Utah Symphony, Louisiana, Rochester and Las Vegas Philharmonic orchestras, the Louisville Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony, Japan's Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra, Century Orchestra Osaka, Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra and Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra; among many others. From 1991-96, he served as music director of the Rutgers Symphony.
A native of Berkeley, Calif., Rubardt holds a doctor of musical arts degree in orchestral conducting from the Juilliard School. A Fulbright scholar in 1984, he studied piano and conducting at the Vienna Academy of Music, and pursued further studies at the Tanglewood Music Center and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. He has participated in the master classes of Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn and Herbert Blomstedt, and his major teachers have included Otto-Werner Mueller, Sixten Ehrling, Michael Senturia and David Lawton. In 2005 he was selected by the American Symphony Orchestra League to perform in the National Conductor Preview with the Jacksonville Symphony.
Rubardt has served on the faculties of the Juilliard School, Rutgers University, and the State University of New York at Purchase. He has received awards and degrees in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the University of California at Berkeley. Rubardt has recorded for Pantheon Records International.
He resides in Pensacola with his wife Hedi Salanki, a professor of music at the University of West Florida, and their two children.