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 close, long-term relationships with the Philharmonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony orchestras, and has conducted many other British orchestas, including the BBC Symphony, BBC Philharmonic and The Hallé. He is Principal Conductor of the 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 Sibelius and Szymanowski to John Adams. He has a catalogue of over 40 recordings, the most recent of which is a disc of Elgar’s Music in Wartime with the BBC Concert Orchestra on SOMM (Gramophone Editor’s Choice, January 2013). 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 2013/14 season include a concert performance of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, London, and a programme of Vaughan Williams, Walton and Ireland with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Wilson is a regular collaborator with some of the world’s finest singers, often working with Sir Thomas Allen, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Gritton and Roderick Williams, among others. He made his operatic debut in 2010 with Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore at Opera North and in December 2012, he conducted Lehár’s The Merry Widow with the Philharmonia Orchestra in concert.

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. He and the orchestra tour both the USA and the UK in autumn 2013. The John Wilson Orchestra records exclusively for EMI Classics.