Excerpts from Naples Daily News (paywall)
"Mills is an intensely involved conductor, and his fervor on the jazzy Bernstein classic (Symphonic Dances from West Side Story) reached choreographic levels. During the Mambo we feared he would make a mosh pit leap face-down into the string section, to be handed over their heads up to the percussion section for a quick hello.
"However, all that energy translated into a performance that laid rubber: zesty, responsive, infectious.
"The opening "Bachianas brasileiras No. 9," by Hector Villa-Lobos, a work we're happy to hear more of, received similar attention. Mills is the former resident conductor of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, and he has a firsthand feel for the nation's rhythms."
"'The Chairman Dances (Fox Trot for Orchestra),' (is) one of composer John Adams' most requested works. It's given snappy treatment here, an unusually lush piece for a minimalist with its layers of sound."
"So should we have been watching Maestro Mills as a contender for the position of music director after Andrey Boreyko's departure in May? An answer to that request came Friday from Artis—Naples, without attribution, saying the organization is 'always in a search for a music director. Everyone who is on the podium is evaluated.'"
"Without any insight, we have to look at all guest conductors as potentially in the running, which means we're watching them all closely. Mills was certainly more visually absorbing than most, and his enthusiasm for this program infectious. That's a great start."
Photo Credit: Jeff Bourgeios for the Naples Philharmonic