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John Wilson

Associate Guest Conductor, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

  • A charismatic figure on the concert stage, John Wilson is known for the vivid nature of his interpretations and is applauded repeatedly for the rich and colourful sounds that he draws from orchestras in repertoire ranging from the core classical through to the twentieth century. An outstanding communicator and a recognised builder of audiences, Wilson has developed long-term affiliations with many of the UK’s major orchestras and is working increasingly further afield, most recently with the Sydney Symphony. In 16/17 he took up his new position as Associate Guest Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

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  • Highlights of Wilson’s 2016/17 season include debuts with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in an all-Bernstein programme, with the London Symphony Orchestra performing Rachmaninov Symphony No.2 and the UK premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Hakan, and with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in a programme celebrating the great Hollywood classics. As Associate Guest Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony, Wilson will conduct Korngold’s Symphony in F sharp Major and Elgar/Payne Symphony No 3 amongst other works, with the BBC Philharmonic he returns to the recording studio to continue his series of critically acclaimed recordings for Chandos and he returns several times to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for various different programmes of British music.  He also returned to the Royal Festival Hall with the National Youth Orchestra and with the Philharmonia Orchestra, continuing his Vaughan Williams cycle with a performance of the Sea Symphony.

    In opera, Wilson made his debut with Glyndebourne Festival Opera in Autumn 2016 to great critical acclaim, conducting the theatre’s first ever Madama Butterfly for their autumn tour in a new production directed by Annilese Miskimmon. Previous opera productions include critically acclaimed concert performances of Léhar’s The Merry Widow and Strauss’s Die Fledermaus with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore at Opera North. Wilson has also collaborated with many of the world’s finest singers, including Sir Thomas Allen, Joyce DiDonato, Simon Keenlyside and Renée Fleming.

    In 1994, Wilson formed his own orchestra, the John Wilson Orchestra, dedicated to performing film music of Hollywood’s golden age. As well as making regular and extensive tours of the UK with them, he appears annually with the orchestra at the BBC Proms, in 2015 with a Bernstein retrospective and in 2016 celebrating the music of Gershwin. John Wilson and the John Wilson Orchestra record exclusively for Warner Classics (formerly EMI Classics) and their performances are broadcast regularly on radio and television.

    Wilson has a catalogue of over 40 recordings the most recent of which is a disc of symphonies by Copland with the BBC Philharmonic on Chandos, released in September 2016, which received superb reviews. Born in Gateshead, England, John Wilson studied composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music, where he was taught by Joseph Horovitz and Neil Thomson and where he won all the major conducting prizes, and in 2011 was made a Fellow.

    2016/17 season / 492 words. Not to be altered without permission.


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Passion and excitement blended with lucidity. There wasn’t a trace of self-indulgence anywhere. The LSO were on exemplary form, the brass rich and noble, a warm sheen on the strings and woodwind playing of exceptional sincerity and elegance.


Everything about the performances signals a conductor and an orchestra who really believe in the quality of the music they are performing... Wilson manages to bring transparency and buoyancy to even the most massive climaxes.


The evening's other big success was John Wilson... shaping the music's ebb and flow as if he had been doing it all his life and revealing countless details... A sensational success.

Opera Magazine

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