Music Director, Wheeling Symphony Orchestra
Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, André Raphel has established a reputation as a skilled communicator and imaginative programmer. He has been Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony since 2003. During his tenure, Raphel has transformed the Orchestra raising standards in a wide range of musical styles and cultivating projects with major artists. He has led the Orchestra in acclaimed festivals, world premieres and commissioned works. Of his French Festival program Bachtrack wrote, “The music was terrifically exciting even as Raphel exerted perfect control over the proceedings.” Highlights of his 2017/18 season with the Orchestra include an East Meets West Festival, a focus on the works of Beethoven as well as notable collaborations with Stewart Goodyear and Jennifer Frautschi.
André Raphel enjoys a busy career as guest conductor. During the 2017/18 season he makes his Buffalo Philharmonic debut and appears with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra. In recent seasons he has appeared with the San Antonio Symphony, Toledo Symphony and led performances in Los Angeles at the gala opening of The Broad Museum. He returned to the Philadelphia Orchestra to conduct the world premiere of Uri Caine’s Passion of Octavius Catto. Raphel has led the Bamberg Symphony in two recordings for Bayerischer Rundfunk, and has appeared with Detroit Symphony and Oregon Symphony. He 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 with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie, and has also led the Moravska Philharmonie. In the U.S. he has led the Pittsburgh Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Seattle Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra among others. 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. Raphel’s international engagements have further included appearances with the Auckland Philharmonia, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Columbia and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica.
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 Mann Center, Grant Park Music Festival, National Orchestral Institute, Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute, Brevard Music Festival, and the Campos do Jordao Festival in Brazil.
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. Prior to his appointment in Philadelphia, he served for three years as Assistant Conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony under Leonard Slatkin.
Raphel is an advocate for audience development and education. In 2010, he launched a highly successful College Series 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.” Raphel’s commitment to education is reflected in his work at leading universities and conservatories. He has led the Juilliard Orchestra, New World Symphony, and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra.
Born André Raphel Smith in Durham, North Carolina, he began formal music lessons at age 11. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Miami, and pursued further study at Yale University where he earned his Master’s Degree in trombone. 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.
Raphel is the recipient of numerous honors and awards which attest to his artistry. In 2012, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Miami. The Philadelphia Orchestra released a special commemorative CD featuring William Grant Still’s Symphony No.1 with Raphel conducting. He received the Distinguished Service Award from Yale University. André Raphel is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from West Liberty University. Raphel has received Honorary Commendations from the cities of Philadelphia and Saint Louis. The North Carolina Senate awarded Raphel the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine.” The award, presented annually is the state’s highest honor for a civilian.