Handel Messiah (Easter Portion)
Entering his seventeenth season as Music Director of Ohio’s Springfield Symphony Orchestra, PETER STAFFORD WILSON is one of the most exciting and talked about conductors of his generation. Concurrently, he holds the post of Music Director of the Westerville Symphony, and was named Principal Conductor of Tulsa Ballet in 2012. Peter Stafford Wilson’s leadership of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra continues to elicit praise from the public, musicians and press. Its 2005 Agriculture and the Arts Growing Together brought international attention to the organization, as did the sequel, American Made: Celebrating Our Manufacturing Heritage, which premiered in November 2007. A new multi-media, multi discipline production of Gustav Holst’s The Planets in 2011 resulted in a sellout house, while the orchestra’s innovative series, “Night Lights,” has enjoyed steadily increasing sales and attendance. The recent endowment of the Music Director chair with gifts totaling over one million dollars is further testimony to the community’s enthusiastic support. Mr. Wilson and the SSO are the recipients of a 2009-2010 ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming as offered by the League of American Orchestras. Since 1990, Peter Stafford Wilson has held the posts of Assistant and Associate Conductor of The Columbus Symphony Orchestra, a tenure he concluded in 2018 after 28 seasons. In Columbus, his duties included leadership of the orchestra’s nationally recognized educational projects, which have been featured at national conferences of the League of American Orchestras and Music Educators National Conference. He led programs on all of the orchestra’s classical and Pops subscription series, and played a major role in its 1997 Viva Vienna Festival. Subsequently, he was named Artistic Director of the orchestra’s Festival Weeks @ The Southern, for which his innovative programming was consistently praised. Wilson opened the 2014-2015 seasons of the Columbus Symphony, BalletMet Columbus, and Opera Columbus with a performance piece called Twisted: A Trio of Excellence. Community reaction was enormous, and Columbus City Scene Magazine subsequently named Wilson “Best Music Director” in it’s reader poll, “The Best of the ‘Bus in 2015.” Mr. Wilson also served as Music Director of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra, which he has regularly led in local and regional concerts. The CSYO has performed at the national conferences of the League of American Orchestras and MENC and at the 1998 International Youth Orchestra Festival in Banff, Alberta. In the summer of 1999, he and the CSYO toured Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany, where they maintain an exchange relationship forged by Wilson, with the Heinrich Schütz Konservatorium in Dresden. During the summer of 2005, Mr. Wilson led the CSYO on a highly acclaimed tour of The People’s Republic of China, playing to capacity audiences in Beijing, Hefei, Hong Kong and Shanghai, as well as in an historic performance atop the Great Wall of China. In 2015, he took the Orchestra to New York’s famed Carnegie Hall for an enthusiastically received performance, and the orchestra made an equally successful return to the venue in 2018. Upon completion of his tenure with the CSO Wilson was awarded the George Hardesty Award for Leadership Excellence by the Columbus Symphony and the Educator of the Year award bestowed by the Greater Columbus Arts Council. Peter Stafford Wilson’s current season includes his debut with the Pensylvannia Ballet as well as continuing duties as Music Director of the Westerville Symphony, a community/collegiate orchestra based at Otterbein University. During his tweny five year tenure, the orchestra has more than doubled its public offerings and seen its budget and community financial support, grow more than 500%. The Westerville Symphony’s innovative Tunes-n-Tales, an ongoing collaboration with the Westerville Public Library for pre-schoolers and their parents recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a commission by composer Lowell Liebermann. Wilson has led over 100 performances with BalletMet Columbus, with whom he travels to Detroit this season for performances at the Detroit Opera House. A native of North Carolina, Peter Stafford Wilson studied at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where his primary mentor was the late Thomas Schippers. During his years at CCM, he became a leading exponent of contemporary music, often collaborating with faculty and student composers, including the Conservatory’s Visiting Professor of Composition, Lukas Foss. Mr. Wilson also studied at the Aspen Music School, where he studied with Dennis Russell Davies, Eastern Music Festival (on whose faculty he subsequently served), Pierre Monteux School, Boris Goldovsky Summer Opera Institute and Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, where he was associated with Franco Ferrara. After his advanced studies, he was appointed Assistant, and later Associate, Conductor of the Canton Symphony Orchestra. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra appointed him Regional Pops Conductor for the 1995 summer season, during which he led the orchestra in a series of widely acclaimed performances in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Mr. Wilson also enjoyed a multi-year artistic relationship with The Cleveland Orchestra, often serving as cover conductor for Severance Hall and Blossom Music Center events. In 1996, the League of American Orchestras featured him in its Conductor Preview event, a program that encourages emerging conducting talents in the United States. Peter Stafford Wilson has guest conducted the orchestras of Bozeman, Charlotte, Chautauqua, Dallas, Detroit, Erie, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, North Carolina, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Roanoke, Seattle, Syracuse, Tucson, Tulsa, West Virginia, Wheeling and Youngstown. He also led the Independence Day Concert with Peter Nero’s Philly Pops Orchestra and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic’s highly popular “Awesome Classics” series, as well as programs with Orquesta Filarmónica de Montevideo and Hong Kong Sinfonietta, and the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra in China. No stranger to the lyric theater, Mr. Wilson has held the positions of Principal Conductor of South Carolina’s Opera Charleston and Music Director of the Ohio Light Opera and conducted performances at Spoleto Festival USA, Young Artists Opera Theater, College Light Opera, Canton Lyric Opera and Otterbein College Opera Theatre. He is also a regular guest conductor at Ohio’s Cedarville University, where he served as interim orchestra conductor for the 2012-2013 academic year. Peter Stafford Wilson and his wife, Barbara Karam Wilson, Director of Corporate Tax for the White Castle System, reside in Westerville, Ohio. When not conducting, he enjoys traveling, golf and reading. He is also a wine enthusiast and an avid gourmet cook. Wilson and his wife also serve as staff for their two rescue kitties, Murphy and Smidgen.