composer

Scott Wheeler was born in Washington DC. He studied at Amherst College, New England Conservatory and Brandeis University (Ph.D., 1984), where his principal teachers were Lewis Spratlan and Arthur Berger. He pursued further study at the Tanglewood Music Center (with Olivier Messiaen), the Dartington School (with Peter Maxwell Davies), and privately with Virgil Thomson. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston, where he co-directs the BFA program in musical theatre. In 1975 he was a founding member of the new-music ensemble Dinosaur Annex, which he continues to direct and conduct.

Mr. Wheeler's most recent commission is for an opera for the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theatre. Other commissions and performances include the orchestras of Minnesota, Houston, Toledo and Indianapolis, as well as New York City Opera, sopranos Renée Fleming and Lauren Flanigan, baritone Sanford Sylvan, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Scott Wheeler's opera Democracy: An American Comedy, on a libretto of Romulus Linney, was commissioned by the Washington National Opera and premiered by them in January 2005. His first opera, The Construction of Boston, will be released on the Naxos American Classics series. Other works can be heard on GM Recordings, Northeastern Records, Palexa, Koch International and Newport Classic.

In January 2007, Kent Nagano and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin commissioned a new chamber symphony called City of Shadows, which was featured on a portrait concert of the music of Scott Wheeler at the Kammermusiksaal of the Berlin Philharmonie. 2008 commissions included the Marilyn Horne Foundation, ASCAP Foundation, Concert Artists Guild, Boston Cecilia, and the Rivers School at Weston.

As a composer, Scott Wheeler has received awards and commissions from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Koussevitsky Foundation, the Fromm Foundation, Tanglewood, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artist Foundation, Yaddo, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the MacDowell Colony, as well as the Stoeger Prize for excellence in chamber music from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He was a Distinguished Visitor at the American Academy in Berlin in 2007.

As a conductor, Scott Wheeler has appeared with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin, the Chamber Ensemble of St. Luke's in New York, the Wellesley Composers Conference, and Dinosaur Annex. His conducting performances can be heard on the Bridge, CRI, Capstone and Newport Classic labels. His performance of Arthur Levering's Twenty Ways Upon the Bells was nominated for a Grammy Award. He has conducted the premieres of over a hundred new works, as well as the Boston premieres of works by Poul Ruders, Gyorgy Ligeti, Judith Weir, Peter Maxwell Davies, and many others. At Emerson College, Wheeler has also conducted productions of the musical theatre works of Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Weill, George Gerswhin, Stephen Sondheim and many others.

Performances

Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | November 13, 2010
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | March 6, 2010
Distler Performance Hall at Tufts University | September 25, 2009

News and Press

[CD Review] Gramophone reviews Scott Wheeler: Crazy Weather

A wonderful tensile energy operates on a subliminal aural screen behind the main episodes in Boston-based Scott Wheeler's music; perhaps they are musical particle traces of the dancers' and singers' bodies 'that are the medium for the stage composer's work', as Wheeler modestly describes himself in the booklet-notes. In fact, Wheeler turns out to be a highly effective composer of classical music by virtue of a vivid aural imagination whose ingenious, garrulous products he crafts into absorbing symphonic soundscapes that make the hip Boston Modern Orchestra Project sound great.

Gramophone Full review
[CD Review] American Record Guide reviews Scott Wheeler: Crazy Weather

Scott Wheeler (b. 1952) has been a continual "point of reference" for new music in Boston for decades, as composer, conductor, teacher. He has an enviable (and enviably diverse) set of teachers, including Lewis Spratlan, Arthur Berger, Olivier Messiaen, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Virgil Thomson! His own baseline aesthetic is what one might call neoclassical, but as the above list of mentors suggests, it is not some sort of throwback to the 1940s.

American Record Guide Full review
[Concert Review] Fuse Classical reviews BMOP's "Virtuosity’s Velocity"

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) kicked off its season with a Jordan Hall program on November 13. Entitled “Virtuosity’s Velocity,” the concert was devoted to five American works for chamber orchestra. The music was demanding and difficult, but conductor Gil Rose did indeed elicit plenty of virtuosity from his ensemble.

The Arts Fuse Full review
[Concert Review] Vigorous BMOP romps through Adams symphonies and more

For its season-opening concert, “Virtuosity’s Velocity,” the Boston Modern Orchestra Project trained its sights on the chamber orchestra — an ensemble whose unique flexibility can incorporate the weight and timbral range of the orchestra and the responsiveness of chamber music. All the music was American, creating a sort of microhistory of the genre’s many iterations.

The Boston Globe Full review
[Concert Review] All-American electricity

For its seasonal opener “Virtuosity’s Velocity,” on Saturday, November 13 at Jordan Hall, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project chose to present an all-American program in a chamber-orchestra size. (In the old days, there were more players on stage than audience members.) The program included works by John Coolidge Adams, Arthur Berger, Ross Lee Finney, and Scott Wheeler. All these composers except Wheeler flirted with serial techniques, only to abandon them later.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review
[Concert Review] What's new

The timely highlight of Gil Rose’s latest BMOP (Boston Modern Orchestra Project) concert, “Strings Attached,” was a new/old piece (2004, revised 2009) for two string orchestras by Scott Wheeler now called Crazy Weather — the new title taken from a John Ashbery poem that begins, “It’s this crazy weather we’ve been having.” Thunderous snaps of antiphonal bass strings set off pizzicato raindrops that turn into Allegro sheets of musical rain. Of course, it’s an emotional landscape, as the exquisite Adagio makes even clearer.

The Boston Phoenix Full review
[Concert Review] The hidden life of strings

The string section is a staple of any orchestra: The largest of the instrumental sections, the strings are the most prominently displayed. Strings are usually the most constant factor in any orchestral score, while woodwinds, brass, percussion are the variables. Perhaps it is ironic that the fate of the string section is to play some of the least sonically interesting parts. Strings are often consigned to betraying their vast range of timbre and tone color to complement and support more strident colors of other sections of the orchestra.

The Tech Full review
[Concert Review] String theory

I was feeling a little, well, strung out this weekend (having seen both Itzhak Perlman and the Artemis String Quartet), so perhaps I simply wasn’t in the mood for “Strings Attached,” the latest concert by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (last Saturday at Jordan Hall). Or then again, maybe the concert was simply as mixed a bag as it seemed. At any rate, it proved a rather rambling evening, with perhaps no very deep lows, but only one real high.

The Hub Review Full review
[Concert Review] Strung out: BMOP's "Strings Attached"

As the BMOP nears the close of its season, Boston lowbrow was treated to—in keeping with the “instrumental” theme of their programming this year—a concert of string music with the paronomastic title “Strings Attached.” Saturday night started with Stained Glass (2009), a brand new short and accessible piece by NEC grad student Nathan Ball—a smooth start to the night with its passages of shuddering violins and folky vibrato.

Boston lowbrow Full review
[Concert Review] For Modern Orchestra, strings tie it all together

It was probably the touchy economy, in part, that inspired Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project to build concerts this season around subsections of the orchestra rather than the full group; on Saturday, it was works for strings. And the orchestra’s most homogeneous group, its lyricism and opulence self-reinforcing, made for pretty classy thrift.

The Boston Globe Full review
[Concert Review] Boston Modern Orchestra Project: Strings Attached

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) presented its third full concert of the season at Jordan Hall on Saturday night, March 6, exclusively featuring the strings in an extensive, fairly eclectic program of music for string orchestra. The program, tagged “Strings Attached” was the counterpart to BMOP’s prior concert in January featuring music exclusively for winds. The pieces performed included two monuments of the 20th-century canon, Bartók’s Divertimento and Babbitt’s Correspondences for string orchestra and synthesized tape.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review
[Concert Review] More from the Voice of America

I’ve been slow to post my thoughts on the second half of the “Voice of America” concert I heard last Friday, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. Indeed, this was probably the most rewarding Boston Modern Orchestra Project concert I’ve yet heard. Although I confess I don’t often hear this group; to me, there’s sometimes a problem built right into their concerts - they’re funded by the composers being played. I don’t mean to criticize this as a way of getting new music out before the public, and to be honest, what I’ve heard at BMOP has always been highly accomplished.

The Hub Review Full review
[Concert Review] Kicking off a vocal fest at Tufts

The conductor Gil Rose, after curating last year’s Ditson Festival of Contemporary Music, is admirably keeping alive the vision of a local new-music festival in late September. This year’s iteration, entitled “Voice of America,” is underway at Tufts University’s Granoff Music Center. It does not have the Ditson Fund’s generous backing so it paints on a necessarily smaller canvas, but last night’s opening performances made clear that it should be a richly rewarding weekend of American vocal music.

The Boston Globe Full review
[Concert Review] Florestan and BMOP join forces to celebrate American vocal repertoire

This evening’s double concert in the Distler Performance Hall of Tufts’ Granoff Music Center began a 3-day festival involving a partnership between the Florestan Recital Project and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project to highlight American vocal music. The former’s presentation was the 1st of 3 concerts which together would span the entire vocal opus of Samuel Barber, aptly titled, “BarberFest,” while the latter highlights contemporary compositions for vocalist(s) and chamber orchestra.

Classical Voice of New England Full review