Andrés Franco, who has served as music director of the Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College for the past four years, will leave his position with the orchestra at the end of the 2019-2020 season.

A committee made up of the orchestra’s advisory board members, musicians, TCC staff and community members will begin a national search for Franco’s replacement.

In May, Franco was promoted from associate conductor to resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the increased responsibilities of that job was one reason for Franco’s decision to leave the Signature Symphony.

“I am very proud of the results we have achieved during my tenure, especially the incredible artistic growth, our interaction with the Tulsa community at large, and our increased visibility at the national level,” Franco said in a statement.

Under Franco’s direction, the Signature Symphony at TCC launched Tulsa Sings! and the Mahler Project, two initiatives to help discover Tulsa’s talent and to emphasize music education.

In addition, he continued to expand Signature Symphony’s community partnerships and collaborations with such organizations as Gilcrease Museum, Greenwood Cultural Center, Jewish Federation of Tulsa, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Historical Society and Museum, and Tulsa Opera.

Franco also continued the Signature Symphony tradition of injecting touches of humor into concerts — such as using a light saber to conduct the orchestra during a concert of music by “Star Wars” composer John Williams.

Franco is expected to return as a guest conductor in the future. “I look forward to continuing our artistic partnership during the 2019-2020 season and beyond,” he said in the statement.

Franco is only the second person to lead the Signature Symphony. G. Barry Epperley, who founded the orchestra in 1978, served as its artistic leader for 36 years before retiring in 2014.

The recently concluded 2018-2019 season celebrated the orchestra’s 40th anniversary.

The search process will follow a similar pattern to the one used following Epperley’s retirement. A group of candidates will serve as guest conductors through the 2020-2021 season as part of the audition process, with the selection of a new music director made prior to the 2021-2022 season.

“While Signature Symphony is thrilled to see Andrés’ success and professional achievement, it also means he will be finishing his tenure with us,” said Kelly Clark, TCC Dean of Visual & Performing Arts in a statement.

“I could not be happier for Andrés as this is a very exciting step in his career and we have been fortunate to have this rising star working with our orchestra for five wonderful years.”

James D. Watts Jr.


Twitter: watzworld