James Judd Named Music Director of Little Orchestra Society

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James Judd, conductor

The Little Orchestra Society will name James Judd as its new music director on Tuesday, an appointment that comes two years after the death of its longtime conductor, Dino Anagnost.

Judd, a conductor known for his previous directorships at the Florida Philharmonic and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, will be tasked with planning and leading the Little Orchestra Society's annual concerts at Avery Fisher Hall, City Center and Hunter College.

His two-year appointment begins in a more unconventional setting, however: conducting circus-themed music at the Big Apple Circus on December 10.

After Anagnost's death in March 2011, the orchestra's traditional concerts were discontinued and focus turned to its education programs, specifically its longstanding "Happy Concerts" and "Lolli-pops" children's series. Joanne Bernstein-Cohen, the orchestra's executive director, said it plans to bring back the adult concerts under Judd.

Judd's appointment was first reported Monday by the New York Times.

A native of Hertfordshire, England, Judd, 63, began his career as an assistant to Lorin Maazel at the Cleveland Orchestra in the 1970s. He served as music director of the now-defunct Florida Philharmonic from 1987 to 2001, and of the New Zealand Symphony from 1999 to 2007. His work as a guest conductor has included performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

In 2008, Judd founded the Miami Music Project, an El Sistema-inspired nonprofit that offers music education opportunities to children. That experience would seem to lend itself well to the Little Orchestra Society, which is particularly known for its programming aimed at both kids and adults.

Below is a clip of Judd leading Mahler's Seventh Symphony. The conductor appears only sporadically, but it gives you a sense of his performances: