A Midwesterner now living in Montreal is the new assistant conductor and community liaison of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

Andrew Crust, who completed his doctorate in orchestral conducting at the University of Colorado Boulder this year, won a three-way audition last week. He begins his job in Portland in September.

Carolyn Nishon, the orchestra’s executive director, announced the hiring Tuesday in an email to the orchestra community. Crust will serve as the public face of the orchestra, working with community groups to build audiences and serving as music director Robert Moody’s principal backup. He replaces Norman Huynh, who left the orchestra this summer.

Crust’s recent positions include assistant conductor of the Boulder Philharmonic and assistant conductor of Opera McGill in Montreal. He has performed across the United States and Canada.

He was among three candidates for the position invited to Portland last week for a public audition. More than 60 musicians and 80 community members spent time with the candidates, who conducted and spoke from the podium, attended a social gathering and interviewed with dozens of people over two days.

The audition process was unusual because of its public nature. In addition to conducting and interviewing in front of an invited audience, the candidates also spent time together as a trio and attended dinner together with Moody at Local 188.


The position is important to the orchestra as it attempts to broaden and strengthen its ties across the community, Nishon said. Crust will spend considerable time on the podium, conducting pops, family and education concerts, as well preparing scores for all classical repertory and stepping in as needed. He will be responsible for all off-stage ensembles, and will be key member of the orchestra’s outreach team.

Crust, who plays the trumpet, will lead the orchestra’s education efforts in schools and community centers, and will help program the PSO’s newly created Symphony & Spirits social gatherings, which target younger audiences.

Crust’s undergraduate degree in music education, as well as the year he spent teaching music in public schools, will serve him well in his new position, Nishon said.

Moody called him “the full package.”

“Andrew is first and foremost and most important, a stellar musician, and he demonstrated it from the first moment on the podium,” Moody said. “Within the first five minutes, I felt well assured of his ability to take the music inside him and inspire the players. Everything else fell into place. He spoke beautifully from the stage, and I loved his vision and his ideas for how to engage the younger generation and how to engage the millennials.”

He grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and now lives in Montreal.

He’s recently conducted at the Kansas City Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic and the Boulder Opera Company, Hartford Symphony, l’Orchestre de la Francophonie in Québec and the Timmins Symphony Orchestra in Ontario. He’s also conducted with the Hamburg Symphony, the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile.

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