Who Will It Be?

This season, four candidates for the music director job are guest conducting for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra 

William Eddins

Buffalo native William Eddins, forty-four, is the music director for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. He also plays the piano and has released solo performances of Beethoven and Debussy on his own label. And, as Charlotte audiences found out in early January, he sometimes conducts from his seat at the keys. He's outspoken and brash, which could be a breath of fresh air for the city but may not go over well with old-line symphony board members. He is the only African-American candidate.

James Gaffigan

Only twenty-eight, Gaffigan has already been conducting full time for five years. After a three-year stint at the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, in 2006 he signed on as associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, where he works directly with Michael Tilson Thomas, one of the most innovative and polarizing figures in American classical music. Gaffigan has also guest conducted for several major symphony orchestras, and he'll be at the podium for the CSO on April 18 and 19.

Edwin Outwater

Relatively young and fresh faced, Harvard grad Outwater, thirty-six, is smooth and ebullient in public and accomplished at the podium. He's music director of the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony in Ontario and also works with the San Francisco Symphony, where he was most recently resident conductor. He guest conducted the CSO in late 2007 and made an overall favorable impression, although players who spoke publicly didn't exactly rave about him. Learn more about him at his blog: www.edwinoutwater.com.

Stefan Sanderling

Stefan Sanderling, forty-three, comes from good stock. His father, Kurt Sanderling, was a conductor and is known as perhaps the greatest interpreter of Shostakovich while his half-brother Thomas also toils behind a podium. Stefan lives in East Berlin and is music director of the Florida Orchestra (in Tampa), where he is under contract until the 2010-2011 season. The most well known of all the candidates, he is also the principal conductor of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. He'll conduct the CSO on February 8 and 9.