FARMINGTON — The son of the San Juan Symphony's founder is taking over the symphony's youth orchestra.

Kurt Chrisman, a retired Piedra Vista High School and Mesa View Middle School orchestra teacher, was hired as the director of the youth orchestra.

The youth orchestra consists of high school and college musicians from around the Four Corners. Auditions for the orchestra are from 4 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 2 at Fort Lewis College.

Kathy Myrick, the executive director, said the board of directors immediately thought about Chrisman when the previous director retired.

Chrisman retired from teaching at Piedra Vista and Mesa View this year. He had taught in Farmington since 1998 when Piedra Vista High School first opened.

Kurt Chrisman conducts the Piedra Vista High School orchestra during a concert at the school in Farmington.
Kurt Chrisman conducts the Piedra Vista High School orchestra during a concert at the school in Farmington. (Daily Times file photo)

Despite his retirement, Chrisman said he had planned to continue offering music lessons.

"I wanted to keep working with kids," he said.

He said he hopes to work with some of his former students and to get to know some new students while directing the youth orchestra.

And he said he wants to increase the number of students from the Four Corners area.

"He is going to be actively recruiting more Farmington students to take part in the orchestra," Myrick said.

Chrisman, who has been a member of the symphony for years, said people had been asking him if he would apply for the position.

"He's been teaching kids music for his entire career," Myrick said. "I can't think of a better person."

Chrisman, who followed his father's path, expanded the orchestra programs in Farmington. He started an 11 student orchestra in 1998. By the time he retired, the school had six orchestras consisting of more than 110 students, including a 75-member symphony orchestra, according to a press release from the San Juan Symphony.

Before he moved to Farmington, Chrisman taught orchestra at Mayfield High School in Las Cruces for 18 years and directed orchestra programs at Vista and Picacho middle schools.

Chrisman will be inducted into the New Mexico Music Educators Hall of Fame during the 2015 All-State Conference in Albuquerque, according to the press release.

Chrisman said his father's work starting the symphony was part of the reason he chose to play in the symphony and to direct the orchestra.

"I always will have a place in my heart for the San Juan Symphony," he said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.