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Coeur d’Alene Symphony conductor and executive director leave for positions elsewhere

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 24, 2021

Coeur d’Alene Symphony’s music director and conductor Jan Pellant and executive director Dr. Holly Blanchette have left the organization to take on new positions.

Pellant officially gave the symphony notice of his resignation last week. Blanchette did the same earlier this month.

These changes were “a little bit unexpected,” symphony board chairman John Botteli said. “Right now we’re just trying to get through our season opener. We don’t want to jump into anything too quickly.”

The search for a music director is never an easy task, Botteli said. After former music director David Demand resigned in 2016, it took the symphony two years to find Pellant.

“Last time around … we spent a whole year with guest conductors, slowly had candidates apply and we spent the second year with finalists,” he said.

For now, the symphony plans to move forward with the season as scheduled.

Dr. Phil Baldwin, who has worked with the symphony for 15 years and serves as assistant conductor and concertmaster, will conduct the symphony’s opening concert at the Schuler Performing Arts Center at North Idaho College on Oct. 2.

Returning home to the Czech Republic, Pellant has accepted a directorial position with the Czech chamber orchestra Musici di Praga. Before his time with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony, Pellant served as music director for the Lexington Chamber Orchestra and conducted the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra and North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also conducted performances at the opera in Pilsen , the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre and the Karlin Music Theater in Prague during an 11-city tour around Romania in 2007.

“I would like to thank the entire Coeur d’Alene community for allowing me this experience and the CSO Board for your hard work to help grow this organization,” Pellant said in a news release. “After much consideration, I decided that I must continue on with my journey. These past few years have been incredible for and with the CSO. I will remember this time fondly.”

Blanchette, who served as the symphony’s executive director for a little over half a year, has taken on the role of development and education manager at the Las Vegas Philharmonic.

Blanchette earned a doctorate of Musical Arts in Oboe Performance degree at the University of Georgia. In addition to the Coeur d’Alene Symphony, Blanchette has performed with the Georgia Symphony, August Symphony Orchestra, ARCO Chamber Orchestra, Royal Fireworks Orchestra, the Fayetteville Symphony, the Winston-Salem Symphony, NOVUS Chamber Orchestra, Harmonique Winds, Present-Continuous New Music Ensemble and the Washington-Idaho Symphony, among others.

“For the time being the board will assume the duties of the executive director and then we’ll … evaluate our options,” Botteli said.

“The experiences and knowledge I gained through my time with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony afforded me the opportunity to explore a newly discovered passion for the arts administration of a symphony orchestra, in addition to fostering and promoting culturally impactful services to my community,” Blanchette said in a statement. “I am entirely grateful to the entire CSO Board, staff and musicians for welcoming me with open arms and providing a supportive environment where I was able to further develop my skill sets in arts administration.”

“There was a lot of excitement about both individuals and the growth of the organization so I think it’s fair to guess that folks are, you know, not super thrilled with the news,” Botteli said. “I know that lots of well-wishes have been expressed to both of them and such … I’m excited for both of them, for sure.

“Still, I’m sure it’s got to be a little bit uneasy for folks … on the heels of 18 months of uncertainty.”

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