Who Will Be the Next Wheeling Symphony Music Director?

Who will be the next music director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra?

Patrons will have the opportunity to experience four candidates in action during the 2018-19 WSO season.

The season will feature the four music director candidates: Timothy Hankewich, Andrés Franco, Silas Huff and John Devlin; eight subscription concerts; and the return of Ohio Valley’s No. 1 family holiday event, Symphony on Ice. The symphony also will continue its Fourth of July Tour, Music Under the Stars, Young People’s Concert Tour and its WSO on the GO series for its 89th Season.

Four of the country’s most innovative conductors will showcase their artistic talent while vying for a chance to lead the orchestra into its next chapter, and Ohio Valley residents are at the forefront of this venture. The Masterworks Season features programs designed by each of the candidates with composers such as Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Mozart and Strauss, mixed with each conductor’s inventive and artistic excellence. The Pops Season shines with songwriting legends, smash hits, superhero music and Broadway stars. It’s a season unlike any other, and the symphony wants its community to drive the orchestra and its new maestro into the 90th anniversary.

The music director search began with an 11-person search committee, comprised of WSO board members, community members and WSO musicians. The search yielded over 65 qualified applicants. The committee narrowed the search to nine semi-finalists. After interviewing each of the semi-finalists, four finalists were selected and asked to conduct two concerts (one Pops and one Masterworks) during the 2018-19 season.

“The quality and diversity of the applicants was remarkable,” said Paul T. Tucker, chair of the Music Director Search Committee. “We have selected an amazingly talented group of finalists, who bring unique experiences, innovative ideas and musicianship to share with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra and the community. It is a testament to the reputation of our orchestra, and to the desirability of our position, that so many highly qualified musicians applied from all over the country and indeed the world.”


The season opens with candidate Timothy Hankewich, a resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who is the music director of Orchestra Iowa. During his tenure, Orchestra Iowa has markedly expanded its audiences and programs, adding opera, ballet, chamber music and jazz to its regular season presentations. Hankewich will conduct Pops 1: Surf’s Up! A Tribute to the Beach Boys, featuring Phil Dirt and the Dozers; and Masterworks 1: Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique.

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The season continues with finalist, Andrés Franco, a resident of Pittsburgh, where he is an associate conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony. He is also the music director of the Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College in Oklahoma. South American by birth, he has a close relationship with multiple orchestras in South America and is a passionate advocate for the music of South American composers. Franco will conduct Masterworks 1: A Night in Vienna; and Pops 3: Music of the Knights: Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney.


Music director finalist Silas Huff starts 2019 by conducting Pops 2: Superheroes! Silas resides in Boulder, Colo. Recently, he served for six years in the United States Army as conductor of various military ensembles. He was commander of the U.S. Army School of Music, director of the U.S. Army Orchestra and director of the Pershing’s Own Army Band. Huff is also founder and music director emeritus for the Astoria Symphony Orchestra. Huff also will conduct the final concert of the 2018-19 season Masterworks 4: Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.


John Devlin rounds out the music director finalists. Devlin, a resident of the Washington, D.C., area, has a doctorate degree from the University of Maryland School of Music. He is the assistant conductor of the Princeton (N.J.) Symphony; the founder, artistic director and conductor of Gourmet Symphony, an innovative concert series that pairs locally sourced cuisine with classical music; and a cover conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. He recently has been named Hawaii Youth Symphony music director and artistic director of the Pacific Music Institute. He will conduct Masterworks 3: Brahms: Symphony No. 4; and Pops 4: Once upon a time…, featuring soprano Sierra Boggess, Broadway’s Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.”

“With the excitement of these four candidates and our commitment to providing excellent orchestral programming to the Wheeling community, we’ve added an eighth concert to our subscription season,” said Executive Director Bruce Wheeler. “The music director search and our 89th season is about engaging our patrons, friends, sponsors, donors and community partners. We want you to come and meet these candidates, see what they are all about, and help us determine who will lead the Wheeling Symphony into its 90th season.”

For the 2018-19 season, Pops concerts are set for Sept. 21, Jan. 18, Feb. 22 and April 26. Masterworks concerts are set for Oct. 19, Nov. 15, March 15 and May 17. The date for Symphony on Ice has not yet been determined.

2018-19 subscription packages will be available for purchase, starting at four concerts or more. Single tickets will be available later this year. For ticket pricing and subscription packages, visit wheelingsymphony.com or call 304-232-6191.