Illinois Symphony Orchestra has new music director

May 31, 2012

Associated Press

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra has a new music director.

The Bloomington-Normal-based orchestra has chosen 41-year-old Massachusetts native Alastair Willis for the position after a search that took two years. Willis tells The Pantagraph in Bloomington that "having your own orchestra seems the right next step in the progression for a conductor."

Willis was raised in Moscow and England. He has conducted in Beijing, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York and Seattle and was nominated for a Grammy award in 2009 for conducting with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Willis is the third music director in the orchestra's history. He says his biggest challenge will be getting to know central Illinois so he can "make informed decisions" about music.