What this amazing conductor has loved most about Bham + 2 can’t-miss May concerts

ASYO with Kevin Fitzgerald conducting
Kevin Fitzgerald conducting the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra (Sam Shatara)

Here in Birmingham, our incredible Alabama Symphony Orchestra has been able to attract some world-class musical talent. Four years ago, conductor Kevin Fitzgerald came to The Magic City to serve as Assistant Conductor of the ASO and as Music Director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra (ASYO). We recently learned that Fitzgerald will be leaving soon to serve as Associate Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony. Find out about the two final public concerts he’ll be conducting, May 7 + May 28 and what he’s loved about his time here.

But first, a bit about Kevin Fitzgerald

Photo by Birmingham’s own Mary Fehr

Back in September 2018, we shared with y’all that the Alabama Symphony Orchestra had named Kevin Fitzgerald as Assistant Conductor.

Then, in November 2019, we interviewed Fitzgerald about a Russian Classics concert the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra was putting on later that month. Who knew about the virus what was about to turn our worlds upside down and put a halt to live music as we knew it for far too long…

Some fun facts: born into a working class family in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Fitzgerald first tried playing music when he was in sixth grade. Little did he know he would discover a lifelong passion. His first foray into conducting was at age 16, and by age 28, he was the youngest member of the ASO’s conducting staff. Also, he’s a dog dad.

When I asked Fitzgerald what he’s enjoyed most about his time in Birmingham, here’s what he said:

“My position with the ASO brought me to Birmingham, and I have enjoyed so much of what this community has to offer. Hands down, the terrific people are the best part of Birmingham—some of the best I have had the pleasure to meet in my lifetime. I will miss all the musicians of the ASO as well as our arts community very much.” 

Kevin Fitzgerald

Kevin Fitzgerald’s top moments from his time in Birmingham

Kevin Fitzgerald conducting
Kevin Fitzgerald conducting the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra (Sam Shatara)

I asked Fitzgerald to choose three highlights from his time here in The Magic City. Here’s what he shared:

  • Conducting Handel’s Messiah this past December as part of the ASO’s Masterworks Series: “It was truly a revelatory event for me. I am now dedicated to pursuing choral-orchestra works. The ASO and ASO Chorus were terrific.” 
  • Being part of the growth of the ASYO during his four years: “The overall artistic level has skyrocketed, and that is credited directly to student achievement and an increase in group dedication to music.” 
  • Building the ASYO Online program to keep the students engaged through the pandemic season of 2020-21: “While we were entirely virtual, we created four virtual performances and brought in guest speakers and ASO musicians to work with the students. There was a noticeable jump in performance once we got back in person across the entire ensemble.” 

What’s next for the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra?

Kevin and Carlos
Kevin Fitzgerald + Carlos Izcaray at Jack Brown’s in Lakeview. (Kevin Fitzgerald)

To learn more about what Fitzgerald’s transition means to the ASYO and the ASO, I reached out to Carlos Izcaray, Conductor of the ASO. Here’s what he said:

“Kevin has been a spectacular driving force for our amazing ASYO. Passionate and inspiring, he tended to the ensemble like a master gardener, patiently allowing them to blossom through the years. Many of them are following their musical calling, and all the kids who’ve worked with him are now exemplary young members of their communities.

As an assistant to the professional ASO, Kevin has grown to be a strong presence in the podium, and I foresee that he’ll have a successful path ahead.”

Carlos Izcaray, Composer + Music Director, Alabama Symphony Orchestra

The ASO management is in the process of securing an interim director for the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the 2022-23 ASYO season is moving forward as planned. We cannot wait to see the new talent the ASO will attract to this role.

Kevin Fitzgerald’s Birmingham favorites

Kevin Fitzgerald and his fiance Kurt Tseng
Kevin Fitzgerald + fiancé violist Kurt Tseng. (Sara Bill)

When I asked Fitzgerald about the gifts he received from his time in Birmingham and some of his local faves, one thing stood out above the rest:

“On a personal note, the biggest gift I received in Birmingham was meeting my fiancé, Kurt Tseng. Our hometowns are about twenty miles apart in Michigan, but we met here in Birmingham of all places.”

Professionally, he’s grateful for the opportunity to grow and serve:

“The biggest gift I received from my roles at the ASO has been the gift of opportunity. The ASO and ASO musicians have generously supported me through providing invaluable conducting opportunities which have allowed me to grow into myself as both a leader and a musician. There is no substitute for time on the podium, and I am so grateful to have had that time and space to develop. I will miss the orchestra very much, but I know I will be back again.” 

Birmingham faves

Two final concerts you don’t want to miss

Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra May 7

Alabama Symphony Orchestra May 28

To learn more about the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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