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Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s conductor and music director Andrew Sewell has accepted a new position as music director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony.

It’s a job he’ll be able to do while still conducting the WCO. In fact, there’s precedent for him performing two conducting jobs at once.

For 10 years when he first came to Madison, Sewell was music director of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra as well as for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra in Kansas. That lasted from 2000 to 2010.

He lived in Madison, but commuted to Wichita, which had the bigger symphony at the time.

Sewell signed an initial three-year contract with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, and plans to commute to that central California coastal city. He will start the job July 1 and will officially take the podium there on Oct. 7.

“There’s great opportunity to grow the orchestra and do something similar to what I’ve done in Madison,” Sewell said Wednesday from California.

The San Luis Obispo Symphony is a full orchestra with about 88 players. WCO has 36 members. Both the San Luis Obispo Symphony and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra are 57 years old.

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“They were looking for a music director who had been around a long time, and I saw an opportunity to make a difference,” said Sewell, a native of New Zealand.

Sewell said he had a week of candidacy with the San Luis Obispo Symphony in October, and got to know the community. He was chosen from among five candidates for the position during an 18-month search.

The San Luis Obispo Symphony has a indoor season of about five classical concerts as well as a couple of outdoor pops concerts, and is looking to do some more outdoor concerts, Sewell said.

The California orchestra also has a chamber music series and an educational program. “The schedule fits very neatly between my duties and concerts that I do in Madison with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. So it actually has worked out very, very well,” he said.

Sewell’s contract with the WCO lasts until August 2019. The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s free Concerts on the Square series starts Wednesday, June 28, and can draw up to 40,000 people per week.

“There’s no reason for me to not continue,” Sewell said.

“They were looking for a music director who had been around a long time, and I saw an opportunity to make a difference.” Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s conductor and music director Andrew Sewell
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