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Philadelphia Orchestra hires two new conductors, both women

The new conductors take up the baton here next season.

Philadelphia Orchestra assistant conductor Erina Yashima
Philadelphia Orchestra assistant conductor Erina YashimaRead moreTodd Rosenberg

The Philadelphia Orchestra has added two new conductors to its roster.

Erina Yashima has been appointed the orchestra’s assistant conductor, and Lina Gonzalez-Granados conducting fellow.

Both are 32 years old, both trained as pianists as well as conductors, and both take up their posts in September with concert dates yet to be announced.

Yashima will succeed Kensho Watanabe, whose term ends with the 2018-19 season.

In its search for two new conductors, the orchestra fielded nearly 600 applications. A total of four finalists came in to conduct the orchestra, a spokesperson said.

“It’s very exciting, a big step. I think the Philadelphia Orchestra is legendary and I know them from a lot of recordings,” said Yashima, who was born, raised, and schooled in Germany and has spent the last three seasons as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprentice.

She expects to be in Philadelphia 30 weeks next season, with exact duties to develop over time.

“These kinds of things you never know until you actually go,” she said, though generally she expected the job to entail tasks like leading education concerts, working on special projects, and assisting conductors in rehearsals.

“It’s very exciting for me to work with Yannick Nézet-Séguin," she said. "I think he is one of the most interesting and talented conductors, especially of his generation. I’m looking forward especially to Elektra [at the end of next season]. With an orchestra like Philadelphia, that will be a very special performance.”

Gonzalez-Granados is based in Boston, and earned a master’s degree in conducting and a graduate diploma in choral conducting from New England Conservatory. She has served as assistant conductor for the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia and as cover conductor for the London Philharmonic and Nashville Symphony.

Her Philadelphia Orchestra commitment will bring her to town 10 weeks next season while she simultaneously serves as a conducting fellow with the Seattle Symphony.

Born in Cali, Colombia, she is an advocate for Latin American composers and is the founder of the Boston chamber orchestra Unitas Ensemble.

“Having two women on the staff is really important for me," she said, "and as a Latin American it really makes an impact not only for me but for the people who come after me and are dreaming of an opportunity like this.”

Gonzalez-Granados was in Philadelphia recently to hear the premiere of Hannibal’s Healing Tones – “I was transformed by what they were able to do,” she said – and is friends with Gabriela Lena Frank, who started as the Philadelphia Orchestra’s composer-in-residence this season.

Said the conductor: “I really feel like everything is aligning.”