News, University News

Conductor relieved of orchestra duties

Brown, who served as orchestra director since beginning of fall semester, received student criticism

By and
Senior Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Though Brown was removed as director, the orchestra will perform Friday under the leadership of music teaching associate Daniel Harp.

Updated Oct. 18 at 9:32 a.m.

The mood changed in Sayles Hall Tuesday night when orchestra students learned that Conductor Brandon Keith Brown, who was hired by the University for the 2017-18 academic year in May 2017, will no longer serve as their director. With a concert set Friday, one may expect a sudden transition in leadership to bring panic, but orchestra students described a different feeling — relief.

“We’re really relieved in general,” said Evan Browning ’18, vice-president of the orchestra, of Brown’s departure. “The atmosphere in this rehearsal is a lot more relaxed and happy.”

Daniel Harp, teaching associate in music, will conduct the orchestra’s concert Friday. “I was given some warning that this was going to happen,” Harp said.

“This was a very sensitive thing. … It’s almost unheard of, especially before a concert,” he added.

But Harp remains focused on guiding the orchestra through a successful concert. “I’m just so happy to be able to make this concert a positive experience. (The students) want and need a positive experience.”

Brown’s departure follows a series of student complaints that criticized his leadership. Katerina Rademacher ’19, president of the orchestra, said that while Brown had the technical skills of a good conductor, he “interacted with students … in an intimidating manner that made students fearful and anxious to approach him.”

His behavior caused “a lot of anxiety in the orchestra and made rehearsal something that students would dread,” she added.

Brown’s behavior also led several students to quit the orchestra, according to multiple students.

Brian Clark, director of news and editorial development, confirmed that Brown is “no longer serving in the role he took on this summer when he joined the University as visiting assistant professor of music and orchestra conductor,” he wrote in an email to The Herald Wednesday morning. 

Brown could not be reached by press time.

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article stated that Brandon Keith Brown was hired in May 2018. In fact, he was hired in May 2017. The Herald regrets the error.