Michael Böhnert Wheatley

Orchestral Conductor

Active as a conductor, violinist, and classical music educator, Maestro Wheatley is the Assistant Conductor of the Eastman Philharmonia Orchestra at the Eastman School of Music.  Prior to this position he served as the Associate Conductor of the American Youth Philharmonic (Washington, DC), Associate Conductor of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra (Carbondale, IL), and Music Director of the Seven Hills Sinfonietta (Cincinnati, OH).

As the sixth Music Director of the Seven Hills Sinfonietta, 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 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, the Southern Illinois Music Festival, and the Cincinnati Chamber Opera. Equally dedicated to guiding 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 St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony (St. Petersburg, Russia), the Eastman School of Music, and the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (Washington, DC).

Maestro Wheatley’s conducting teachers have included Christopher Zimmerman, Neil Varon, Vassily Sinaisky, Gustav Meier, Edward Benyas, and David Zinman. In 2007 he was the only American conductor to be invited by Maestro Vassily Sinaisky as part of a program to study 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 collaborated with scores of professional artists including soprano Renee Fleming, violinist David Kim, cellist William Grubb, clarinetist Eric Mandat, and Pulitzer-winning composers John Adams, Ned Rorem, Kevin Putz, Christopher Rouse, and Jennifer Higdon.

He is an alumnus of conducting programs at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors (Hancock, Maine), Peter the Great Music Academy (St. Petersburg, Russia), the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and he is currently pursuing a DMA in Orchestral Conducting at the Eastman School of Music. Before becoming a conductor, Mr. Wheatley performed extensively as a violinist. He has appeared with 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.