Look for something different tonight when the Rogue Valley Symphony opens its 42nd season: a Texas conductor running the show.

Chelsea Tipton II, music director of the Symphony of Southeast Texas in Beaumont, will open the symphony season tonight with a program of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 and Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.”

The concert is at 8 p.m. in the Music Recital Hall at Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland. It repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday in Medford and at 3 p.m. Sunday in Grants Pass. Tickets are $33 and $40 tonight and slightly less in Medford and Grants Pass.

Five guest conductors will vy this year to become the music director and conductor of the symphony beginning next season.

The symphony has announced a 2009-2010 season of five series of concerts. Each series will feature a different guest conductor. After the season, the symphony will announce which one has won the job. The pool started with 160 applicants.

“It’s an evaluation process,” says the symphony’s Cybele Grimes. “It gives us that opportunity to spend time with them. Each one will be here 10 days. They’ll rehearse, visit schools, meet people. We get to see how they operate. Being a music director is a lot more than just being a conductor.”

Students may receive free tickets to the Medford and Grants Pass shows. Ticket vouchers have been given to area schools and music teachers, and may also be obtained by going to www.rvsymphony.org and visiting the Education Programs link (or call 552-6398).