O’Neil joined the state's flagship orchestra in 2005 following six years as associate conductor with the Utah Symphony. The Colorado Symphony named him resident conductor in 2010.
A resident conductor -- sometimes known as an "associate" or "assistant" conductor -- is an orchestra's "in house" conductor. An often less glamorous job than that of music director, it involves everything from conducting pops concerts to covering subscription performances of classical works, sometimes at short notice.
"Every conductor has a shelf life with an orchestra and after a while people feel like they need something new," O'Neil says, adding that the typical tenure for a resident or associate conductor in an American orchestra is around three years. "Being an associate or resident conductor is like dating someone. You might stay together for a while but you're not going to get married."
Colorado Symphony CEO Jerry Kern says it was time for O'Neil to look beyond the Colorado Symphony.
"He's a great asset, but it's necessary for his career for him to move on," Kern says. "You can't stay in one place in the maestro business anymore."
During his nine years with the orchestra, O'Neil led a wide array of performances including traditional Masterworks programs, youth concerts and cross-genre collaborations with the likes of banjo player Béla Fleck, rock bands DeVotchKa and the Lumineers, and indie singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov.
"I've played under many, many resident conductors before and in many ways it's a thankless job because you have to conduct the concerts that no one else wants to do," Colorado Symphony principal oboist Peter Cooper says. "Scott does a really fine job. He is exceedingly well prepared and his demeanor is remarkably calm. He's an asset and I'm sorry to see him go."
O'Neil says he is in talks with the symphony about returning as a guest conductor at some point. But he has no firm engagements with the orchestra or any other ensemble currently in the pipeline.
The organization is planning a celebration for O'Neil during and after a pair of concerts he will be conducting on the weekend of May 9-10 2015. The program includes O'Neil's arrangement of Pat Metheny's "The First Circle" and "Minuano."
According to Kern, the symphony will begin the search for a new resident conductor next week and expects to audition candidates for the position in July 2015.
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