With the flick of a conductor’s baton, Linus Lerner is a music director.

Lerner, who recently was named the new leader of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, will take over for Adam Boyles at the end of the symphony’s musical season. Lerner will start rehearsals with the orchestra in August for the 2008-09 season.

“Right now I am doing some research of all the 20-some years of the history of what repertoire they have done,” Lerner said. “I want them to grow artistically. I also want to keep them on the path that Adam was doing.”

Boyles left about a year ago to lead the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Orchestra and is now back in town leading his last two performances with SASO.

Boyles’ last performance with SASO will be 3 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. The performance will feature a newly commissioned work by a local composer and actors reading remembrances from Ellis Island as pictures of immigrants from about 1900 are projected on a screen.

“It’s been really fun being back, not only because we get this last concert together but also we get to reconnect on a personal level with a lot of people,” Boyles said. “The people that have been SASO audiences for years can testify to the fact that this is a totally different sound and a totally different group. I think Linus is inheriting a group that is on track to make even more progress for him.”

After SASO learned Boyles would be leaving, the search committee started to advertise the position.

Close to 60 potential candidates from around the world applied for the position in Tucson.

Patte Lazarus, who is SASO’s spokeswoman and a violinist in the orchestra, said the search committee had to quickly narrow the field down to 10 applicants.

“The first thing that we did was basically eliminate anyone outside of the United States,” Lazarus said. “We felt we really wanted someone who was really involved in the Tucson community.”

Narrowing the search to 10 meant keeping people who had experience working with a community orchestra and fit the committee’s vision of how it wanted the orchestra to grow.

From there, the 10 remaining applicants were asked to send videos of their performances, rehearsals, or both. Four potential music directors were asked to come to Tucson and perform three songs during two performances.

Lerner, who is from Tucson, didn’t have to travel very far. He has two master’s degrees — one from College Conservatory of Cincinnati the other from Florida State — and a doctorate in conducting from the University of Arizona.

For five years, he has led the men’s chorus Reveille, and he will continue to do so.

Lerner was born in Brazil and is of German origin. He speaks five languages.

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