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. Described by the New York Times as “An agile, demonstrative conductor who is physically drawn into the music,” Mr. Raphel is currently in his tenth season as Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. During the 2012-13 season, he leads the Wheeling Symphony in the World Premiere of a commissioned work by Kenneth Fuchs. He has led the Orchestra in acclaimed festivals as well as commissioned works by Richard Danielpour, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and Jennifer Higdon who holds a composer Residency in March 2013.
Mr. Raphel enjoys an active career as guest conductor. During the 2012-13 season, he conducts the Oregon Symphony in a special All-Gershwin program featuring Kevin Cole and Sylvia McNair. He appears in New York with The Little Orchestra Society and leads the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston. Last season he made a successful debut with the Detroit Symphony and recorded with the Bamberg Symphony in Germany. 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 recent seasons 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 in 1997, 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 highly 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. He has also been heard as a featured artist on NPR’s “Performance Today.” Mr. Raphel’s commitment to education is reflected in his work at leading universities and conservatories. He has led the Juilliard Orchestra, New World Symphony, Temple University Symphony Orchestra and University of Maryland Orchestra 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. In 2010, The Philadelphia Orchestra issued a special commemorative CD featuring William Grant Still’s Symphony No.1 with Mr. Raphel conducting. In 2006, he received the Distinguished Service Award from Yale University. In 2004, he was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from West Liberty University. Mr. Raphel has received Honorary Commendations from the cities of Philadelphia and Saint Louis. In 2001, he was awarded the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine” by the North Carolina Senate. The award, presented annually is the state’s highest honor for a civilian.
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Last updated August 2012.