Conductor Andre Raphel Named Conductor Laureate Of The Wheeling Symphony Orchestra

By: May. 10, 2018
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André Raphel, Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra for the past fifteen years, was honored with the title of Conductor Laureate on Wednesday evening, May 2 at a recognition ceremony taking place in Wheeling, West Virginia. On May 18, he will conduct the Wheeling Symphony in its season finale program featuring Respighi's "Pines of Rome" and works by Dvorak, Beethoven and Richard Strauss. The concert is to be followed by a public celebration.

Christina Terek, President of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors said, "The Board of Directors is extremely proud to bestow upon Maestro André Raphel the honorary title of Conductor Laureate. Through his leadership, programming, and commitment to excellence, Maestro Raphel has created incredible musical triumphs in his fifteen-year tenure with the orchestra. The Board of Directors is honored to celebrate André Raphel and his work with our Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.

Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra since 2003, Maestro Raphel has led the Orchestra in critically acclaimed festivals, world premieres and commissioned works by illustrious American composers such as Richard Danielpour, Jennifer Higdon, Kenneth Fuchs and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. During his tenure, he has raised the Orchestra's musical standards and artistic profile with creative programming honing critical acclaim, as well as establishing Composer Residencies. He conducted the Wheeling Symphony in its first performance of Sibelius' Seventh Symphony during the orchestra's history. In addition, he has launched many special projects and audience development initiatives bringing the Orchestra further recognition.

"Maestro Raphel's artistic excellence and professionalism in his role as conductor leaves the Wheeling Symphony with a restoration of centeredness, unification, and technical accomplishment," stated Rachel Stegeman, the Concertmaster of the Wheeling Symphony. She continues, "During rehearsals with him, his dedication to the musicians, commitment to great music making, and having the Symphony connect emotionally with the audience inspired us to rise to each concert with enthusiasm and vigor."

"It is a great honor to be named Conductor Laureate of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra," states André Raphel. "In May 2016, when I announced to the Orchestra my decision to step down as Music Director following the 2017-18 season, it was with great appreciation for what we've accomplished. Receiving this honor is a testament to what we've accomplished as an organization during the last fifteen years. Working with the wonderful musicians of the WSO has been a constant source of inspiration, making for a meaningful collaboration and fulfilling artistic experiences."

About André Raphel

A dynamic and versatile conductor hailed for his profound musical performances, André Raphel is renowned for his technical brilliance. An adventurous programmer, he has also developed a reputation as an orchestra builder.

Raphel enjoys an active career as guest conductor. In recent seasons he has appeared with the San Antonio Symphony, Toledo Symphony and made his Los Angeles debut conducting at the gala opening of the Broad Museum. He returned to the Philadelphia Orchestra to conduct the world premiere of Uri Caine's Passion of Octavius Catto. Raphel has led the Bamberg Symphony in two recordings for Bayerischer Rundfunk. He has appeared with most of the major American orchestras including the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

André Raphel made his European debut with the Neubrandenburger Philarmonie, and has also led the Moravska Philharmonie. In the United States he has appeared with the orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, Seattle, the National Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra among others. He made his Carnegie Hall debut leading Robert Shaw and the Orchestra of St. Luke's in a concert celebrating the centennial of legendary mezzo-soprano Marian Anderson. Raphel's international engagements have further included appearances with the Auckland Philharmonia, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Columbia and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica.

A guest conductor at major music festivals, Raphel has led programs at the Blossom Music Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center. He has also appeared at the Mann Center, Grant Park Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute, Brevard Music Festival and the Campos do Jordao Festival in Brazil.

André Raphel served as Assistant Conductor to Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic for two years. He was Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra for six years. Prior to his appointment in Philadelphia, Raphel served for three years as Assistant Conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony where he worked with Leonard Slatkin.

Raphel has a strong commitment to education and audience development. His commitment to education reflected in his work at leading conservatories and training programs. He has led the Juilliard Orchestra, New World Symphony, Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute and Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra.

Born André Raphel Smith in Durham, North Carolina he began formal music lessons at age 11. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Miami, and pursued further study at Yale University where he earned his Master's Degree. While at Yale, he began conducting studies with Otto-Werner Mueller. He continued studies with Mueller at The Curtis Institute of Music earning a Diploma in conducting and at The Juilliard School, where he was awarded the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship and received and Advanced Certificate in orchestral conducting.

Raphel is the recipient of numerous honors and awards which attest to his artistry. In 2012, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Miami. The Philadelphia Orchestra issued a special commemorative CD featuring William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1 with Maestro Raphel conducting. He received the Distinguished Service Award from Yale University. Raphel is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from West Liberty University. He has received Honorary Commendations from the cities of Philadelphia and Saint Louis. The North Carolina Senate awarded André Raphel the "Order of the Long Leaf Pine." The award, presented annually is the state's highest honor for a civilian.

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