BWW Blog: Meet Maestro Peter Stafford Wilson

January is usually a light month for musicians. We tend to spend that glorious time recuperating from countless Nutcrackers, Messiahs, Strauss waltzes and polkas and a plethora of other Holiday extravaganzas that many colleagues rely on for a large portion of their annual income. Like retailers, musicians count on the Holiday Season's musical embrace to help them survive a somewhat lean winter.

But for me, January has been anything but restful! I have enjoyed a reunion with Bill Allen and his troupe, Cirque de la Symphonie, as well as a trip to the Tulsa Ballet for my final visit this season, a staging of Val Caniparoli's Lady of the Camellias.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra presented Cirque on their pops subscription series, and I believe it was the third visit by the group to the Ohio Theater. I have had the pleasure of conducting each of these performances, and have shared the artists with my Springfield Symphony audience as well. If you are unfamiliar with Cirque de la Symphonie, the event combines acrobatic European circus style performers with the greatest warhorses of orchestral repertoire. Jugglers, contortionists, aerial artitsts, even a magic trick involving the conductor (no, I don't know how she gets out of the knotted ropes so quickly) and a humorously annoying clown amaze the audience while the Orchestra performs music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Khatchaturian, Berlioz, Saint-Saens, among others, and even takes the spotlight for several pieces during the course of the night. Synchronization with the acrobats is less difficult than it appears, as they plan their performances around blocks of time, and as long as the orchestra is in the general time frame, the collaboration appears meticulously rehearsed. I do recall one show I did with them where we had our timings a little askew. The strong men (two fellows, one of whom, at one point, balances himself above the other with his only his hand on his partner's forehead) experienced a flight delay and missed the rehearsal. Evidently our Bach Toccata and Fugue in d minor was a little quick for them. The Orchestra and I ended well before they did and some quick improvisation on their part had to take place. Probably not wise to have the strong men mad at you!

More On: Alexandre Dumas.

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Guest Blogger:Peter Stafford Wilson 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. 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. In 1996, the American Symphony Orchestra League featured him in its Conductor Preview event, a program that encourages emerging conducting talents in the United States. From 1990 to 2008, Peter Stafford Wilson held the posts of Assistant and Associate Conductor of The Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Wilson is also Music Director of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra, which he has regularly led in local and regional concerts. Peter is now in his eleventh season as Music Director of Ohio's Springfield Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his work with Tulsa Ballet, Peter Stafford Wilson's current season includes his continuing duties as Music Director of the Westerville Symphony, a community/collegiate orchestra based at Otterbein College, work with Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra, and a quartet of holiday performances of The Nutcracker with BalletMet Columbus.

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by Peter Danish