Joffrey Ballet names new Music Director

September 18, 2010
Chicago Crusader
Dr. Barbara Wright-Pryor

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The Joffrey Ballet announced recently that Scott Speck has been appointed as the company's new Music Director.  Speck appeared on the podium during the 2009-2010 season as Guest Conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta for the productions of Othello last Fall and Cinderella last Winter.  His first performance in his new role as Music Director will be the upcomming All Stars program at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, October 13 - 24, 2010.

Speck replaces Leslie B. Dunner, a New York native now residing in the Chicago area, who was appointed Music Director in 2003 by Joffrey Co0Founder and Artistic Director Gerald Arpino in a simultaneous announcement that The Chicago Sinfonietta would become the official orchestra for the company.  Maestro Dunner, the first American to win the Arturo Toscanini Conducting competition, came to the Joffrey after numerous successes in positions with major orchestras including the Annapolis Symphony, the New York Phil-harmonic and the Detroit Symphony.  He conducted Joffrey performances to critical acclaim for five full seasons.

"I have collaborated with Scott Speck for many years," said Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet, in an official press release that gave no reason for Maestro Dunner's departure.  "I called him (Speck) last year to conduct the very complex score for Elliot Goldenthal's Othello, and both dancers and orchestra were extremely grateful for his involvement.  He is an accomplished musician, scholar and conductor.  Even more importantly, he possesses a love for and an understanding of ballet.  Music is at the heart of ballet.  I am delighted that Scott will bring his great talents to the Joffrey."  Wheater became the Joffrey's Artistic Director at the retirement of Gerald Arpino who became Artistic Director Emeritus in 2007.  Mr. Arpino died October 29, 2008. 

Born in Boston, Speck, 48, holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Southern California.  He has served as a conducting Fellow at the Aspen School of Music and studied at the Tanglewood Music Center.  In addition to the position with the Joffrey, Speck is also Music Director of the Mobile Symphony (AL), the West Michigan Symphony (MI), and the Washington Ballet (DC).