André Raphel has established a reputation as an exciting and versatile conductor through innovative programming, a commitment to American music, and fresh interpretations of the standard repertoire. Currently in his eleventh season as Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, during the 2013-14 season he leads the orchestra in the World Premiere of Avner Dorman's Prayer for the Innocents. He has led the Orchestra in highly acclaimed festivals, world premieres and commissioned works by Richard Danielpour, Kenneth Fuchs, Jennifer Higdon and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.
Mr. Raphel enjoys an active career as guest conductor. In summer 2014, he returns to the Philadelphia Orchestra to lead the World Premiere of a new work by Uri Caine at The Mann Center. During the 2013-14 season, he returns to the Bamberg Symphony to record works by Gershwin, Ravel and Roy Harris for Bayerischer Rundfunk. He makes his debut with the Jacksonville Symphony, and in recent seasons has conducted the Detroit Symphony and Oregon Symphony. Mr. Raphel has appeared with most of the major American orchestras including Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.
André Raphel made his European debut in 2005 with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie, and returned to Europe during the 2006-07 season to lead the Moravska Philharmonie. In the U.S. he has appeared with the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, Seattle, the National Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. 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. Mr. Raphel’s international engagements have further included appearances with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Columbia, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica, and the Auckland Philharmonia.
Mr. Raphel served as an Assistant Conductor to Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic for two years. He was Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra for six years, where he worked closely with Wolfgang Sawallisch. Prior to his appointment in Philadelphia, Mr. Raphel served for three years as Assistant Conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony where he worked with Leonard Slatkin.
A guest conductor at major music festivals, André Raphel has led programs at the Blossom Music Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center. He has also appeared at the National Orchestral Institute, Grant Park Music Festival, Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute, Brevard Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, and the Campos do Jordao Festival in Brazil.
Mr. Raphel has an active interest in audience development. In 2010, he launched a successful College Series of concerts with the Wheeling Symphony. During his tenure with the Saint Louis Symphony, he served as Music Director of the orchestra’s “In Unison” program, a partnership between the orchestra and local churches. Mr. Raphel’s commitment to education is reflected in his work at leading conservatories and training programs. He has led the Juilliard Orchestra and New World Symphony among others.
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 an Advanced Certificate in orchestral conducting.
Mr. Raphel is the recipient of numerous honors and awards which attest to his artistry. The Philadelphia Orchestra issued a special commemorative CD in 2010 featuring William Grant Still’s Symphony No.1 with Mr. Raphel conducting. In 2006, he received the Distinguished Service Award from Yale University. He 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 Mr. 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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Last updated March 2014.