The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra has just announced that its upcoming 2018-2019 season will be the last for Philip Mann as music director. Mann will pass down the conductor's baton to take on the title of Music Director Laureate, a first for the ASO.

According to a press release, the symphony hopes Mann "will be able to continue his highly successful relationship with the ASO as he grows his international conducting presence and broadens his role within classical music."

"For eight seasons, we’ve been delighted to have Maestro Mann on the podium to lead some of the most talented musicians performing some of the best music in the world here in Arkansas," Jan Hundley said, board chairwoman for the ASO. "We know that Philip wants to broaden his musical influence internationally, and we wish him much success, as we know other people around the world will be as enriched and impressed by his talents as we have been."

No word yet on who will step into the music director role just yet, but preparations for Mann's farewell season, including a send-off celebration, are underway.

"As we look ahead to next season and beyond, Arkansans should rest assured that we are a thriving, financially stable organization and our priority is to provide engaging, high-quality performances and offer music education initiatives around the state," ASO CEO Christina Littlejohn said, noting the organization will not immediately begin the search for a replacement.

"The ASO leadership will take time to consider the best long-term decisions for the community and will invite new ideas from patrons about how to position the ASO for continued growth and stability for generations to come."