Keitaro Harada will become associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony in Virginia.

Keitaro Harada, the energetic conductor of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s Rock the Fox series and associate conductor of the Arizona Opera, is heading to Richmond, Virginia, in the fall.

Harada was named associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony, serving under the orchestra’s Music Director Steven Smith. Harada will work with Smith on the orchestra’s pops series as well as be the primary conductor for the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra and Elizabeth G. Schneider Discovery Series education concerts, according to a news release.

The job is a natural fit for Harada, who has spent the past four years leading the Phoenix Youth Symphony to what some critics have called some of the ensemble’s finest performances in years. In a 2011 concert at UA’s Crowder Hall, Harada had the group of high-school musicians performing a program of Tchaikovsky, Borodin and Curnow — works you rarely see young musicians tackle.

Harada was en route to Europe this week with Phoenix Youth Symphony and could not be reached for comment.

Richmond’s Maestro Smith said Harada brings to his orchestra an infectious energy, something that has earned him praise from Tucson audiences since he first began working with the TSO while a fellow in the University of Arizona’s Rogers Institute for Orchestral and Opera Conducting six years ago.

“Kei will bring his infectious energy and enthusiastic imagination to our entire community,” Smith said in a release. “With a wide variety of experiences behind him, he has already established himself as someone who connects well with orchestras and audiences alike.”

Harada has studied under Lorin Maazel at Castleton Festival and Fabio Luisi at Pacific Music Festival. His résumé includes winning the Seiji Ozawa Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood Music Festival, a Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview award and the 2014 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award.

While at the UA, Harada studied under Thomas Cockrell, the director of the UA School of Music’s orchestral activities and artistic director of Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point. Cockrell will inherit Harada’s role of Phoenix Youth Symphony music director in the fall.

Harada is set to conduct the TSO in its MasterWorks series Jan. 10 and 11. He also will conduct Arizona Opera’s production of Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment” April 10-12 in Phoenix and April 18 and 19 in Tucson.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.