GREENFIELD — Teaching music to children certainly isn’t new to Steven Bathory-Peeler, having been Northfield Mount Hermon School’s director of orchestras for the past 20 years. But he’s about to get a new opportunity.
Bathory-Peeler, 51, of Gill, has been hired as director of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra, a position he said he’s delighted to take on.
“It’s always encouraging to me to meet kids and families who value music,” Bathory-Peeler explained. “I’m constantly encouraged when I see a young person really focusing and concentrating on music.”
Bathory-Peeler said he was offered the position three weeks ago, replacing Luca Antonucci, who served as director for one year. Christine Johnson, a member of the search committee in charge of finding a youth orchestra director, said Bathory-Peeler’s “local connection was appealing.”
As a way of breaking the ice with his pupils, Bathory-Peeler held two half-hour meet and greet sessions at Artspace on Saturday, immediately before and after youth orchestra auditions from 10 a.m. to noon.
“I could understand a certain trepidation,” Bathory-Peeler said of being the youth orchestra’s third director in three years. “That’s a lot of change.”
Regardless, both students and parents echoed their excitement to work with Bathory-Peeler, with rehearsals starting Sept. 17.
“It’s good for ‘em to have different (directors),” said Fran Jackman, who brought her granddaughter Jessica Jackman, 16, of Greenfield, to meet Bathory-Peeler. “Each one brings something new.”
“I’m excited,” said Jessica Jackman, who plays in the youth orchestra. “He seems like a pretty cool guy. I’m hoping for the best this year … I think he’ll bring a lot of experience too.”
Bathory-Peeler said he started conducting back in 1991 when he formed the Jamaica Plain Chamber Orchestra.
“I sort of took a leap of faith,” he explained. “To stand up in front of a group of people to impose…