Maestro Thomas Hinds has retired as music director and conductor of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra after 37 years and is leaving a huge impact on the River Region.
Bryan Reeves, the symphony’s executive director, said the orchestra will bring in guest conductors for the coronavirus-shortened 2020-2021 season, and it will use the 2021-2022 season to audition potential conductors.
Hinds, 72, made his debut with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra in 1983 and quickly became the face of the symphony, leading classical concerts at the Davis Theater and pops concerts at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the State Department of Archives and History.
Hinds said he is retiring because his wife, cellist Katerina Juraskova, received an opportunity to teach and perform in London, Ontario. In a letter to the symphony’s board of directors, Hinds said, “You have allowed me to make a contribution to an institution I have come to love, for the benefit of a city that has become my home. You have allowed me to have a life of meaning and purpose, and I cannot adequately express my gratitude to you.”
“When the symphony board of directors lured Tom to Montgomery with the offer of full-time employment as our music director and conductor, at a time when the orchestra was transitioning from a project of the Cultural Division of the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, I thought his tenure with us would be a half dozen years at most,” said Stanley Gregory, Montgomery Symphony Association board president. “Not so. He devoted the prime of his career to MSO with enthusiasm and innovation. Tom is a tremendous talent, and the Montgomery region has been blessed to have him on our podium for so many years.”
During Hinds’ tenure, the symphony moved to a permanent home in the Davis Theater, expanded its classical season, upgraded the popular “Jubilee Pops” and “Broadway Under the Stars” free concerts, pioneered and brought in talented musicians from around the world for its “Artists in Residence” program, and expanded the Blount-Slawson Competition into a nationwide opportunity for outstanding young musicians to perform with the symphony.
“Being part of that growth has moved me in so many ways: the generosity and decency that are part of the DNA of the organization; the dedication of every single branch of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra; the clarity of purpose – we really do want there to be something of beauty and value in our community’s life; and the love and commitment by musicians to this extraordinary art,” Hinds said.
Hinds received his training at the University of North Carolina, the Aspen Festival, the Goldovsky Opera Institute, the American Conductor’s Guild Institute, the Pierre Monteux School under Charles Bruck and the Munich Philharmonic Conductor’s Course under Sergiu Celibidache.
The Montgomery Symphony Orchestra would have begun its 2020-2021 season with its “Broadway Under the Stars” pops concert on Aug. 28 and its first classical concert on Oct. 5, but the symphony board had to cancel both due to restrictions on large gatherings caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The symphony’s next scheduled classical concert is Nov. 16 at the Davis Theater.