Wesley Schulz - Music Director
Conductor Wesley Schulz is garnering attention for his fresh programming and imaginative performances as well as building orchestras and growing audiences. In constant demand, Schulz is the Music Director of the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Festival Orchestra and the Bainbridge Island Youth Orchestra. He has been lauded by musicians for his “intensity and emotion” in performances and for his “approachable and inspiring” leadership. In the fall of 2014 Schulz will assume the new post of Conducting Fellow at the Seattle Symphony with Music Director Ludovic Morlot.
Since the beginning of his tenure in 2011, Schulz has revitalized the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra with impressive artistic success. Smashing box office records and increasing fundraising support for the orchestra’s mission, Schulz and the orchestra have broken new ground by every possible measure. Together they have commissioned and given two world premieres, performed with outstanding soloists such as Christopher Guzman, Rachel DeShon and Emma McGrath, performed sold-out concerts of Verdi’s Requiem, collaborated with the hilarious improv troupe the EDGE, established a popular Young Artist Competition, and reached out to young people through side-by-side performances, all while continuing to deliver refreshing performances of classic and new musical works.
From 2009 to 2013 Schulz was the assistant conductor of the fully professional Britt Festival Orchestra in Jacksonville, Oregon. In addition to serving as cover conductor Schulz was responsible for programming and conducting the annual Symphony Pops concert. In these performances Schulz collaborated with world-class musicians such as Project Trio, Christopher O’Riley and Platypus Theater. Most significantly, through creative programming and energetic performances, Schulz and the orchestra transformed the Pops concert into the most highly attended program at the Britt Classical Festival – growing the number of attendees from 400 to over 2,000.
A passionate teacher as well as conductor, Schulz is deeply committed to working with young musicians. He was appointed to the faculty of the Seattle Conservatory of Music by the nationally recognized violin pedagogue Margaret Pressley and teaches conducting and score study to some of the most talented musicians in the Pacific Northwest. Further, at the Bainbridge Island Youth Orchestra Schulz has bolstered enrollment, overseen numerous foundation grants, commissioned two new works by composer Alan Lee Silva, and started an annual Artist-in-Residence program to teach students creative approaches to music.
Schulz was formerly an Assistant Conductor of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and a Teaching Assistant at the University of Texas at Austin. At UT Schulz conducted Mozart’s Bastien und Bastien with the Butler Opera Center, premiered new works by student composers with the New Music Ensemble, and served as Music Director of the University Orchestra. Under Schulz’s direction the University Orchestra grew from thirty-eight musicians to over eighty, all while improving in artistic quality and musicianship. A fan of the chamber orchestra repertory and collaborative work, Schulz founded and directed the Texas Chamber Group presenting chamber sized orchestral works as well as special concert events on a biannual basis to the Austin, Texas community from 2007 to 2011. One such program, the Rite of Spring Project, drew a standing-room-only crowd in witness of a discussion panel, dancers, and pianists as well as a full orchestra performance of the ballet score. This performance of Rite of Spring earned Schulz and the ensemble the 2010 American Prize in Orchestral Performance. One judge commented “astonishingly good and…extremely impressive in almost every detail.”
Schulz has appeared as guest conductor with the Northwest Mahler Festival, the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, Oregon East Symphony, Powder River Symphony, Rainier Symphony, the San-Francisco All-City Honors String Orchestra, Austin Chamber Music Center, and he was chosen to lead the International Clarinet Associations’ Showcase Concert at ClarinetFest 2010. Schulz has participated in a variety of masterclasses and conductor training programs including the Pierre Monteux School, the Eastman Summer Conducting Institute, and workshops sponsored by the Conductor’s Guild and International Conducting Workshops and Festivals. He has worked with Larry Rachleff, Gustav Meier, Neil Varon, Thomas Wilkins, Mark Gibson, Michael Jinbo, Kirk Trevor, and Bridget-Michaele Reischl among others. His primary mentors include Gerhardt Zimmermann and Peter Bay.
Schulz graduated magna cum laude with Bachelor degrees in Percussion Performance and Music Education from Ball State University and Doctorate and Master’s degrees in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin. When not on the podium, Schulz can be seen hitting the pavement in preparation for his next marathon.
Photo: Ben Aqua