Ransom Wilson

Camilla Huxford Endowed Chair in Orchestral Studies


Long recognized as one of the world’s leading instrumentalists, Ransom Wilson has turned increasingly to a career as a conductor of orchestral and operatic repertoire.  He is Artistic Director of New York’s LE TRAIN BLEU ensemble, Music Director of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company,  Music Director of Solisti New York Orchestra, former Artistic Director of Oklahoma’s famed OK MOZART International Festival, former Music Director of the Flint Symphony, Tuscaloosa Symphony, Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, and the SUNY Purchase Orchestra. He is currently the Music Director of the Redlands Symphony in Southern California, which has experienced an unprecedented increase in ticket sales and attendance since his arrival.   He has appeared as guest conductor with many major orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Denver Symphony, the San Francisco Chamber Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the New Jersey Symphony, the Budapest Strings, the Berkeley Symphony, and he led a successful tour with James Galway and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  Mr. Wilson has accompanied many internationally renowned artists from the podium, including Itzhak Perlman, André Watts, Frederica von Stade, Joshua Bell, Garrick Ohlsson, Paul Watkins, Anne-Marie McDermott, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, François Dumont, Nicholas Canellakis, Michael Stephen Brown, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Jeffrey Kahane and Hilary Hahn.

An esteemed operatic conductor, Mr. Wilson recently spent ten years as a member of the conducting staff at the Metropolitan Opera.  He has twice appeared as conductor for productions of Handel operas at the New York City Opera, and has led a highly acclaimed production of the American stage premiere of  Mozart’s Il Re Pastore, with the Glimmerglass Opera.  Additionally, he conducted the first professional production of composer Amy Beach’s only opera Cabildo, on the “Great Performers at Lincoln Center” series.  The production was recorded and released on CD by Delos International.  Recent seasons have included concerts and recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony, England’s Hallé Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, the Tulsa Philharmonic, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, among others. He conducted Puccini’s La Bohème at the International Opera Center in Amsterdam, as well as Rossini’s La Cenerentola in San Sebastián, Spain.  Wilson has also conducted numerous times as an Artist Member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, both in New York and on tour.

As flute soloist, he has appeared in concert with some of the greatest orchestras and artists of our time, including the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Detroit Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Frederica von Stade, Jessye Norman, Thomas Hampson, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick, Erin Morley, Sasha Cooke, Edgar Meyer, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Hilary Hahn, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Sir James Galway, Barry Douglas, Claude Frank, Peter Frankl, Robin Sutherland, and many others.

Ransom Wilson is the recipient of several illustrious honors.  In 1988 the New York Times Foundation awarded him the first Alabama Prize, which is awarded to natives or residents of that state who have distinguished themselves in the performing or visual arts.  The following year he, with pianist Christopher O’Riley, received a National Public Radio award for best performance by a small ensemble on a national broadcast.  In 1993 he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. The Austrian government honored him with their prestigious Award of Merit in Gold, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of Mozart’s music in America.

Mr. Wilson’s highly successful recording career, which has included three Grammy Award nominations, began in 1973 when he made a recording with Jean-Pierre Rampal and I Solisti Veneti.  More than 30 solo recordings have followed on the Angel/EMI, RCA, Orion, Musical Heritage Society, Warner Classics, and Nimbus labels, among several others. As conductor, he has made a best-selling recording of music by John Adams and Steve Reich with Solisti New York and a disc of Baroque music with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.  A recording on the CRI label features Mr. Wilson conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in the music of Aaron Jay Kernis and he recorded Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat  in a citically acclaimed performance on the Chesky label. A strong advocate of contemporary music, Wilson has commissioned new works by Steve Reich, John Luther Adams, Joseph Schwantner, John Harbison, Peter Schickele, George Tsontakis, Sean Friar, Lilya Ugay, Jean-Michel Damase, Jean Françaix,  and Carlos Surinach.  Most recently, he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a recording of music by American composer Michael Colina.  A gifted arranger, he has transcribed much of the music for his Angel/EMI/ Warner Classics recordings and—at Carnegie Hall with Frederica von Stade as soloist—he has conducted his own orchestrations of three of Maurice Ravel’s Five Greek Songs, which were left unorchestrated by the composer.
 He recently conducted the premiere of his new orchestration of Ravel’s Sonatine with the Redlands Symphony. Educated at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the Juilliard School, Wilson pursued post-graduate studies as an Atlantique Scholar in France with Jean-Pierre Rampal.  He has studied conducting with Roger Nierenberg, James Dixon, Otto-Werner Mueller and received extensive coaching from the late Leonard Bernstein.