Jacksonville Symphony names Deanna Tham assistant conductor and principal conductor of youth orchestras


Deanna Tham has joined the Jacksonville Symphony as the orchestra’s assistant conductor, Symphony President Robert Massey recently announced.

Tham, who will begin July 1, will also serve as principal conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras. In her new roles, Tham will work with symphony staff to create and conduct its education programs, including family concerts, preludes and young people’s concerts. She will conduct the JSYO Philharmonic and Repertory orchestras as well as actively manage recruitment initiatives, curriculum, orientation, retreats and concerto competitions. She will also serve as cover conductor for Music Director Courtney Lewis and will conduct select Jacksonville Symphony concerts.

“I am delighted to welcome Deanna to the Jacksonville Symphony family,” Lewis said. “Her experience leading the Louisville Youth Orchestra and working with professional orchestras makes her the perfect fit for our new assistant conductor position. I’m very excited to watch her lead the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras during this time of unprecedented growth, and to work with her as she conducts the Jacksonville Symphony.”

Tham was selected in an international search process that included eight semi-finalists, each of whom visited Jacksonville to conduct the symphony. Three candidates were invited to the final round, where they made educational presentations replicating the work the symphony does in its Preludes Youth Concerts. The candidates also each coached a brass quintet made up of young musicians. Tham was unanimously selected as the winner by a committee comprised of Lewis, Massey, Associate Conductor Nathan Aspinall, Director of Education and Community Engagement Kathryn Rudolph and Director of Artistic Operations Tony Nickle along with the ballots of each participating musician in the Jacksonville Symphony.

“I’m beyond excited to come to Jacksonville and work with the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra family,” Tham said. “It is one of my greatest joys to help young musicians discover their voices, be in awe of what those voices can create, and take that into the world. It is an honor to come into a community with so much passion for and dedication to developing the creativity and voices of their young people. I am eager to continue that spirit, push boundaries and reach new heights with the incredible potential that the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras have.”

Prior to joining the Jacksonville Symphony and its youth orchestras, Tham served as music director of the 350-piece Louisville Youth Orchestra. In addition, she was previously the music director of the Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and has conducted the Boise Philharmonic and Ballet Idaho, and Opera Idaho. A California native, she has conducted and guest conducted across the United States, most recently working with renowned conductors Marin Alsop and James Ross at the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival.

Tham has served as the assistant conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, where she also received a Professional Studies Certificate from the Cleveland Institute of Music in Orchestral Conducting, studying with Maestro Carl Topilow. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Horn Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Music degree in conducting with honors from Northwestern University.