GRAND RAPIDS, MI, March 31, 2022 – Following the retirement of John Varineau in May 2021, a
search committee was formed to discuss the process to find a replacement. This past
November we announced the position opening for the Assistant Conductor of the Grand Rapids
Symphony and received an extensive number of highly qualified, diverse, and talented
conductors from across the globe.
The nine-member search committee, comprised of Grand Rapids Symphony musicians, artistic
leadership, board, and staff, dedicated a significant amount of time and effort to review and
discuss the candidates. We are pleased to announce that we have narrowed our choices to
four exceptional candidates who have accepted our invitation to come to Grand Rapids to
audition and interview with us.
Our four finalists are:
• Aaron Vaughn
• Constança Simas
• Duo Shen
• Karen Ni Bhroin
Between May 9-17, 2022 these conductors will have the opportunity to work with the Grand
Rapids Symphony including the opportunity to lead a special free public performance in DeVos
Performance Hall on May 12.
The candidates will also rehearse with the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony on May 16 and,
during the course of their week here, will meet with various stakeholders and explore our
community. This process has been designed to engage the conductor who creates the best
mutual match with the organization.
Mr. Vaughn is currently the Assistant Conductor of Sinfonia Gulf Coast under Maestro
Demetrius Fuller. He has extensive experience with collegiate and youth orchestras. Before
focusing on conducting, he worked as a professional violinist. He earned his Master’s in
Orchestral Conducting in 2019 from the Florida State University College of Music.
Ms. Simas has acted as assistant conductor in several productions with the BBC National
Orchestra of Wales, the Welsh National Opera, and Orquestra sem Fronteiras. Through July
2022 she will be participating in the Young Women Opera Makers residency of the Académie du
Festival Aix-en-Provence. She recently graduated with Distinction from the Royal Welsh College
of Music and Drama, receiving a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting.
Mr. Shen, originally from Beijing, came to the United States in 2008. He is an accomplished
violinist and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Maryland, College
Park. A strong advocate for new music, Mr. Shen has performed and premiered numerous
newly composed pieces both as a conductor and violinist.
KAREN NÍ BHROIN:
Ms. Ní Bhroin is Assistant Conductor of North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Symphony, Music
Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony Youth Orchestras Program, and Associate Conductor
and Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2019 she was
appointed Assistant Director of the Akron Symphony Chorus, and in 2020 made her debut with
the Akron Symphony Orchestra. A music education graduate of Trinity College Dublin, she
earned her Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting at Kent State University. Ní Bhroin is
originally from Co. Wexford, Ireland.