ALBANY, Ga. — Claire Fox Hillard, conductor of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, will not return to his job following his arrest this past August in Camilla, symphony officials announced Monday.
Karen Allen, executive director of the Albany Symphony Association, confirmed that the executive board met and voted “not to bring him back in January.”
Hillard had been suspended through the end of the year for his arrest on loitering and prowling. He was apprehended by officers in Camilla wearing only a towel that he had borrowed from a Camilla resident who let him use a phone to call police. Hillard reported initially that he was attacked by two black men, but police determined that story was fabricated to hide a sexual encounter behind a closed business that was disrupted when police responded to a prowler call at the location.
Allen told reporters that the board decided last week not to reinstate Hillard “after re-evaluating the climate following the incident.”
“After thoughtful consideration of the symphony’s future, the board decided it in the best of the symphony to part ways with Claire Fox Hillard,” Board President Holland Wright said.
Hired in 1987, Hillard was the symphony’s first full-time conductor and music director and directed the symphony’s first concert at its permanent home at the Albany Municipal Auditorium during a gala concert featuring Ray Charles in 1990.
Hillard was also the conductor of the Meridian, Miss., Symphony Orchestra. He resigned from that organization earlier this year, following his arrest.
The move to let Hillard go comes just ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Peppermint Pops, the symphony’s signature Holiday event, which is set for Saturday.
Guest Conductor David Hoose will take the baton for the Peppermint Pops, Allen said.
Hoose is a professor of music and director of orchestral activities at the Boston University College of Fine Arts. He serves as music director of the Cantata Singers & Ensemble and is former music director of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra.
He has appeared as guest conductor with the Saint Louis Symphony, Utah Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Korean Broadcasting Symphony, Quad City Symphony, Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Emmanuel Music, and with the orchestras of New England Conservatory, Shepherd School of Music, and Eastman.