Michael Böhnert Wheatley

Orchestral Conductor

Active as a conductor, violinist, and classical music educator, Dr. Wheatley is the Music Director and Conductor of the Skagit Symphony Orchestra (Mt. Vernon, WA). Prior to this position, he has held the posts of Associate Conductor of the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (Washington, DC), Music Director of the Seven Hills Sinfonietta (Cincinnati, OH), and Associate Conductor of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra.

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As the sixth Music Director of the Seven Hills Sinfonietta (Cincinnati, Ohio), Maestro Wheatley established a reputation as a builder of orchestras and audiences. Under his leadership the orchestra nearly doubled in size, relocated to an expansive new concert venue, formed significant new relationships with grant-giving organizations, greatly expanded its orchestral library, and was featured in a film for the Sundance Channel. For six unprecedented seasons, he led the orchestra to perform ever more substantial and challenging works of the orchestral repertoire. He now endeavors to bring about this same kind of evolutionary growth as Music Director of the Skagit Symphony Orchestra.

In 2007 he was invited by Maestro Vassily Sinaisky to take part in a program exploring Russian performance practice with the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, focusing on the symphonies of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky. Following this work, Mr. Wheatley assisted Maestro Sinaisky in his guest performances with the BBC Philharmonic. In 2010, he became Associate Conductor of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra.  And in 2013, he was featured in an exhibition of up-and-coming professional conductors at the Eastman School of Music, which led to a guest conducting engagement with the Rochester Philharmonic.

He has led professional orchestras on three continents, most recently in Poland, Russia and Ukraine, and in the USA with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Fargo Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, Southern Illinois Music Festival, and the Cincinnati Chamber Opera. Passionate and dedicated to teaching young orchestral players, he has led the student orchestras of Southern Illinois University, the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, Southeast Missouri State University, Northern Kentucky University, the Pierre Monteux School Festival Orchestra, the Eastman School of Music, the St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony (St. Petersburg, Russia), and the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (Washington, DC).

Maestro Wheatley’s conducting teachers have included Christopher Zimmerman, David Zinman, Vassily Sinaisky, Gustav Meier, and Neil Varon.  He is an alumnus of the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors (Hancock, ME), Peter the Great Music Academy (St. Petersburg, Russia), the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and has recently completed doctoral work at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY).  He has collaborated with scores of professional artists, including soprano Renée Fleming, tenor Thomas Baresel, violinist and pedagogue Kurt Sassmannshaus, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra David Kim, cellist William Grubb, clarinetist Eric Mandat, pianist Sandra Wright Shen, and Pulitzer-winning composers John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Kevin Puts, and Jennifer Higdon.

Before becoming a conductor, Dr. Wheatley performed widely as a violinist.  He has appeared with the symphonies of Cincinnati and Dayton in Ohio, Paducah in Kentucky, and as a member of the award winning Ensemble for 18th Century Music under the direction of the acclaimed harpsichordist and scholar of eighteenth-century performance practice, Eiji Hashimoto.  As a chamber musician he has collaborated with members of the Grammy-winning LaSalle and Tokyo String Quartets.  He has recorded, as violinist, on the Centaur and Claremont record labels.