John Wilson

A charismatic figure on the concert stage, John Wilson is known for the vivid nature of his interpretations and the intensely colourful sound that he draws from orchestras. An outstanding communicator and a recognised builder of audiences, Wilson inspires listeners with his intelligent programming and on-stage presentations. He regularly appears on radio and television.

In the UK, Wilson has developed particularly close relationships with the Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic and BBC Scottish Symphony orchestras and has long-term affiliations with many other British orchestras, including the BBC Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, The Hallé and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestras. He is Principal Conductor of the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Principal Conductor of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Dublin.

Wilson has a particular affinity with British music, with a flair for interpreting music by Vaughan Williams and Elgar, among many others. He also exercises a deep understanding of the core classical repertoire, with an enthusiasm for composers from Ravel and Stravinsky to John Adams. He has a catalogue of over 40 recordings, the most recent of which is a disc of Elgar’s The Spirit of England and With Proud Thanksgiving with the Philharmonia Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus on SOMM. In other recent recordings he has conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (on Avie and Naxos) and the Hallé (on its own label).

Highlights in the 2014/15 season include a new series of concerts with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, as part of its Classic FM Concert Series. He returns to the Royal Festival Hall, London, to conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra in a programme that continues his cycle of Vaughan Williams symphonies. Much in demand as an inspirational figure for young musicians, Wilson conducts the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for their winter residency, with concerts in Leeds and in London.

Wilson has worked with some of the world’s finest singers, including Sir Thomas Allen, Joyce DiDonato, Simon Keenlyside and Renée Fleming. He made his operatic debut in 2010 with Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore at Opera North. With the Philharmonia Orchestra in concert, he conducted Léhar’s The Merry Widow in 2012 and Strauss’s Die Fledermaus in 2014.

Born in Gateshead, England, John Wilson studied composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music, where he was taught by Joseph Horovitz and Neil Thomson. He won all the major conducting prizes there, as well as the coveted Tagore Gold Medal for the most outstanding student; in 2011 he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Music. In 1994, Wilson formed his own orchestra, the John Wilson Orchestra, dedicated to performing film music of Hollywood’s golden age. He has appeared annually with the orchestra at the BBC Proms following the huge success of his debut in 2009. Following a hugely successful summer tour of British festivals, as well as to the Grafenegg Music Festival in Austria, he and the orchestra undertake an extensive UK tour in autumn 2014. The John Wilson Orchestra records exclusively for Warner Classics (formerly EMI Classics).