After a two-year search that involved nine candidates, the Spartanburg Philharmonic will begin a new season on Sept. 16 with John Young Shik Concklin as its new music director.
Concklin is an Atlanta native who has been with the orchestra as a violist for some years before making his conducting debut with it in 2018. He is the current music director for the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the Atlanta Music Project and Piedmont Chamber Orchestra.
He returned to the podium this spring as guest conductor of a music director finalist concert, titled Epic. The concert consisted of a suite by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and the Gustav Mahler First Symphony known as Titan.
Finalist concerts give conductors being considered for the music director position the opportunity to showcase their skills while building relationships with musicians. In Concklin’s case, conductor and musicians were familiar with one another. As a player with the Spartanburg Philharmonic, he became a last-minute hero for the 2022/2023 season’s first concert when his guest conductor and fellow finalist was unable to make performance.
“From the very beginning, the search committee committed to finding the perfect fit for our organization and for our musicians. We believe John Young Shik Concklin is that person,” said Karen Parrott, Spartanburg Philharmonic board president and chair of the search committee.
“John gets us—Spartanburg, our community, our musicians— and we are thrilled that he is our tenth music director.”
Concklin will join the philharmonic on a three-year initial contract and is already working with the staff to finalize programming for the upcoming season, is set to launch Saturday, Sept. 16 with an original piece from resident composer Peter B. Kay and Antonin Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony, “From the New World.”
As music director, Concklin will be responsible for developing “imaginative, varied, and compelling” programs for the Philharmonic; selecting soloists; developing and maintaining a strong working relationship with the musicians; establishing and communicating the artistic path of SP; and working with the board and staff to set the short- and long-term plans of the orchestra. He will help shape the overall vision, identity and direction of the philharmonic and be the new face of the organization. He is also the principal conductor for the orchestra, leading all rehearsals and performances. The music director reports directly to the board of directors and will work closely with the executive director and staff of the Spartanburg Philharmonic.
The nationwide search began in August 2021 as an extensive and experienced search committee began reviewing applications. The committee consisted of board members, musicians, and philharmonic staff and was advised by Henry Fogel, a leading arts executive and consultant for orchestras around the country. The committee narrowed approximately 160 applicants down to nine finalists. Between 2021 and 2023, each candidate was able to program and conduct a Zimmerli Concert Series concert held at Twichell Auditorium on the Converse University campus.
In a welcome message Spartanburg, Concklin wrote:
“I am deeply honored to be selected as the tenth music director of the Spartanburg Philharmonic. My musical and personal life are deeply intertwined with this community, and I always dreamt of what it would be like to lead this storied ensemble. After years of anticipation, here we are! The chapter ahead will be filled with meaningful collaboration and music making. I cannot wait to carry Spartanburg’s rich musical legacy forward; alongside you, the passionate Spartanburg community, the talented musicians, and devoted patrons who have kept it vibrant for so long.”
About the Spartanburg Philharmonic
Almost a century old, Spartanburg Philharmonic has its roots in the 1895 May Festival, the precursor of the South Atlantic States Music Festival founded in 1898, and one of only four such festivals featuring orchestras in the United States at that time. Recognized as a pillar of creativity, inspiration, and entertainment, Spartanburg Philharmonic is a modern orchestra with a strong foundation in traditional and contemporary music.
As a firm proponent of diversity and inclusion, the Philharmonic is dedicated to creating innovative and exhilarating experiences through memorable performances of well-known and rarely played works by female composers, composers of color, as well as composers from the past and present, for all members of the Spartanburg community and beyond.
An arts organization whose mission is to enrich, inspire, and educate through live performances of high-quality music, the Spartanburg Philharmonic partners with a variety of community, health, and education organizations to provide opportunities for all ages and abilities to enjoy. Amongst the programs are Music Sandwiched In, a free and open to the public lunch hour series; the Spartanburg Philharmonic Youth Orchestras, offering instrumental music education to students grades 6 through 12 in 16 different schools across three counties; and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Institute’s Link Up program, providing a music curriculum to 4th graders throughout Spartanburg County. To learn more, please visit