Shortlisted in 2007 for the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society’s Conductor’s Award, John Wilson has established an enviable reputation as a conductor, arranger and scholar, recognised internationally as an expert in the specialist fields of light music, jazz and music for screen, as well as a passionate advocate of British music. He is a principal conductor of the Northern Sinfonia while working on a regular basis with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Philharmonia, BBC Scottish, BBC Symphony and BBC Concert orchestras. He is principal guest conductor of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in Dublin, has conducted the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in Finland on several occasions and has also worked in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Bulgaria.
In 2007 he made his BBC Proms debut in the Royal Albert Hall, televised on BBC2, his Australian debut in Melbourne and Adelaide and his London Philharmonic debut at the Royal Festival Hall. He had a triumphant return to the BBC Proms in 2009 conducting his own orchestra in a programme celebrating 75 years of MGM musicals, televised live on BBC2, watched by 3.5 million and repeated three times, now released on DVD. They returned to the Proms last August in a highly acclaimed Rodgers & Hammerstein concert, also televised on BBC2, toured the UK in November and Swingin’ Christmas was broadcast on BBC2 on Christmas Day, repeated on New Year’s Eve. In 2010 John Wilson made his operatic debut with Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore at Opera North and toured the UK again with the production in autumn 2011.
He has made many recordings with the John Wilson Orchestra on the Vocalion label. This spring he signed an exclusive contract for his orchestra with EMI.
A keen advocate of British music, his discography includes works by John Ireland with the Hallé, four highly acclaimed recordings of the music of Eric Coates with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the RLPO, and works by Vaughan Williams, Bax and Edward German.
A prolific arranger, he has produced countless orchestrations for film, radio and television. He arranged and conducted the music for Kevin Spacey’s film Beyond The Sea, the score of which was nominated for a 2006 American Grammy Award. He enjoys a close working relationship with Paul McCartney and has orchestrated and conducted several of his compositions with the London Symphony Orchestra. In the USA his arrangements and orchestrations have been played by the Chicago Symphony, Boston Pops, National Symphony of Washington and Cleveland orchestras.
A lifelong interest in film music led John Wilson to restore a number of classic film scores. He accepted an enormous challenge from MGM: reconstructing the lost orchestrations of all their major musicals including High Society, Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon and An American in Paris. In 2007 he gave the first European performances of the newly restored score of Wizard of Oz with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, synchronised with the film and the first Irish performances in Dublin with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. He conducted Singin’ in the Rain with the Philharmonia in the Royal Festival Hall last November.
Born in Gateshead on Tyneside in 1972, John Wilson studied composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music where his teachers were Joseph Horovitz and Neil Thomson. He graduated from the RCM in 1995 winning all the major conducting prizes and the coveted Tagore Gold Medal for the most outstanding student and has recently been made a Fellow.