CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – Following a two year search, the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera has announced a new music director.

Dr. Kayoko Dan has been selected as the eighth Music Director of the CSO and the first woman to hold the position.

Maestro Dan will replace Maestro Bob Bernhardt, who led the CSO for the past 19 years.

"I am very excited to have our first female conductor. I compliment the CSO Search Committee on its two year conductor search," states CSO Board President, Susan Rich.

"I am grateful to the musicians who served on our committee and who also voiced the appraisals of their fellow musicians, to the board members who gave their attention to our many meetings, and to the audience members who told us whom they liked the best.  There could not have been a stronger consensus," said Spencer McCallie, CSO Board Vice-President and Chair of the Music Director Search Committee in a release.

Dan currently serves as the Music Director and Conductor of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra in Lexington and recently completed her three-year tenure as the Assistant Conductor of The Phoenix Symphony.

"The musicians feel Kayoko will bring out the best in our orchestra," says CSO Principal Horn player and member of the Music Director Search Committee, Gordon James. "Ms. Dan is a triathlete, and her conducting style reflects her athleticism.  Her musical expertise, precision, and elegance, combined with her natural warmth, and sincerity gave us the confidence that she would be the best Conductor for our Orchestra.  We feel that there is no limit to what she can conduct."

Kayoko Dan began her musical training in Japan at age three.  After relocating to the United States, she continued her musical studies with flute and received her Bachelor in Music Education at The University of Texas, and her DMA in Conducting and Master in Music education from Arizona State University.  She was named the Karajan Fellowship for the Young Conductors in 2007 and David Effron Conducting Fellowship at the Chautauqua Institute in 2003.Her principle teachers are Timothy Russell and Timothy Muffitt.  She has also studied with Kurt Masur, Leonard Slatkin, Zoltan Pesko, Jorma Panula and William Reber. 

As a strong advocate of music education, Ms. Dan has given clinics at high school, youth and regional orchestras throughout the country.  She has taught at several elementary schools including Thomas J. Pappas, school for homeless children in Arizona as an Arts Bridge Scholar.  While serving at a Graduate Teaching Assistant, her dedication and passion for music education was recognized by Graduate Teaching Excellence Award given by the Arizona State University.  In Addition, she is a frequent guest speaker at university conducting classes to encourage young conductors who are pursuing a career in music.

Maestro Kayoko Dan will join the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera on a full-time basis at the start of the 2011-12 performance season in September.