Symphony Orchestra

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Ron Wheeler

I discovered classical music at about age 9 through a recording of Ferde Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite in the basement of my grandparents’ house in Wichita, Kansas. I loved the combination of orchestral sounds and the dynamic contrast of the piece. Prior to that I wanted to be a big band trumpet player. Grofe turned me in the direction of classical music, but I was sill enamored with the trumpet. I could begin to take trumpet lessons in public school, but had to wait a couple of years. I could take violin lessons right away, so I reluctantly took up the violin. The instrument did help provide a scholarship to the University of Tulsa, where I became even more ambivalent about the violin due to a teacher who was known for discouraging students from going into music.

I changed my major to broadcasting for awhile, but ended up back in the music school as a Vocal Education major. I had been curious about conducting even in high school, and became more so in college. My musical life changed with a new personality. Robert McNally was engaged as violin instructor, chamber music coach and orchestra director at T.U., and a whole new world open up. I finally became serious about the violin and expanded my interest in conducting.

Bob was an exceptional musician and teacher. An inspirational individual with a wide view of the many aspects of music making. He would relate what I was studying on the violin to colors and phrasing of other instruments in the orchestra. I enjoyed his orchestra rehearsals and playing chamber music with him. Bob became conductor of the Youth Symphony when I went into the Army, where I managed to be accepted into a band as a horn player. When I was released from the Army, Bob asked if I would be interested in being his assistant conductor with the Youth Symphony. I jumped at the chance and, when after two years he stepped down to become Concertmaster of the Philharmonic in 1972, I was elevated to my current position. Bob has been the primary influence in my musical life.

I have had the best of a couple of careers: Orchestral Musician and Orchestral Teacher. I have found that working with talented, intelligent, motivated and curious young musicians has brought me great pleasure, increased my own musical curiosity and kept me young at heart. I can’t imagine a better life.

Mr. Wheeler has performed and conducted at music Festivals in Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia and South Dakota. He has designed and conducted concerts for young people with the Sunriver, Oregon Festival Orchestra and the Tulsa Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. He has also served on the faculty of Tulsa Summer Arts, The Oklahoma Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain, Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony in Arkansas and Oral Roberts University. He was a violinist in the Tulsa Philharmonic and Tulsa Symphony for over 50 seasons. His most rewarding work has been with the Tulsa Youth Symphony.

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Rick wagner

Richard Wagner is the Director of Instrumental Ensembles and Associate Professor of Music at The University of Tulsa School of Music. In this capacity, Professor Wagner conducts the TU Symphony Orchestra, TU Chamber Orchestra, and the TU Wind Ensemble. Additionally, he oversees the TU Concert and Athletic Bands and teaches classes in conducting, orchestration, music education, and French horn. He has been the conductor of the TU Symphony since 2005 and is also in his 17th year as Associate Conductor of the Tulsa Youth Symphony. From 1994-2012, he was the Director of Instrumental Music in the Bixby (OK) Public Schools. Professor Wagner conducts regularly with the Signature Symphony at TCC and is active as an adjudicator and clinician in the area, region and nationally. For many years, he has been active as a hornist in groups such as the Tulsa Philharmonic, Tulsa Opera, Signature Symphony, OKC Philharmonic, Wichita Symphony, the Denver Brass, and the Aries Brass Quintet.

Professor Wagner has been a faculty member at Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain and is the Director of the TU Summer Band Camp held each June on the TU campus. He holds degrees/certificates from Wichita State University, Northwestern University (IL), The University of Tulsa and has done doctoral work at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Professor Wagner is currently the Past-President of the South Central Division and a member of the National Executive Board of the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA).

Concert Orchestra

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Pete peterson

Earl “Pete” Peterson is the Musical Director and Conductor of the Tulsa Youth Symphony’s Concert Orchestra.

“I enjoy working with the talented musicians in the concert orchestra every Sunday, as I have since 2006. Their hard work, dedication, and desire to achieve excellence is inspiring. From the beginning of the season to the first concert, the musical and technical progress achieved by these musicians is very impressive. My wife, Laura, and I have been married over 35 years. Before retiring to gardening, Laura worked in the Tulsa Youth Symphony office for six years as the Communications Director. Laura and I have two wonderful daughters, Hayley and Chelsea; a great son-in-law, Matthew; and a little 3-year old grandson, Oliver, who delights us more than we thought possible. Oliver loves conducting and will be making his public debut very soon I hope. Chelsea, a violist, attended college as a Biology major and Hayley, a violinist, attended college as a Speech Language Pathology major. Both daughters fondly remember their time as members of Tulsa Youth Symphony. Both continue to have a passion for music and play in the TCC Community Orchestra—which I conduct—and are members of the Tulsa Quartet.”

Mr. Peterson enjoyed a 35-year teaching career with the Union Public Schools, where he started the string program in 1981. Starting with a few 6th grade orchestra pioneers, the program grew to over 700 string players in grades 6-12 when Peterson retired to focus on conducting and performance.

In addition to conducting Tulsa Youth Symphony’s Concert Orchestra, Peterson is the musical director of TCC’s Community Orchestra, an all-adult orchestra. He has directed many local youth orchestras, festival orchestras, and has guest-conducted Signature Symphony, and numerous All-District and Honors orchestras.

Peterson has served as cellist with the Gettysburg Symphony, Tulsa Philharmonic, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Ballet, and Signature Symphony. He is currently a member of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, the Mosaic Trio and the Tulsa Quartet.

Peterson holds a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance from the University of Tulsa which he completed after earning a degree in Music Education from Towson State University in Maryland. “I attribute my desire to teach and conduct to my father, a retired junior high band director, and my high school band director. The influence of these two conductors combined with taking private cello lessons with one of Baltimore Symphony’s finest, helped to shape my professional life. I am pleased my career combines a beautiful blend of some of my favorite things: conducting, teaching, and performing.”

Preparatory Orchestra

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amelia ivory

Amelia Ivory is delighted to conduct the Tulsa Youth Symphony's Preparatory Orchestra and welcome all the young and enthusiastic musicians to the program. These budding and eager young musicians are tremendous to work with. Witnessing them absorb new techniques and styles so quickly continues to amaze her. She is inspired by their ability to learn and improve at such a quick pace. Their accelerated grasp of the material has given her the confidence to have these young musicians take on more challenging repertoire.

Ms. Ivory moved to Bartlesville, OK with her family at the age of 10 from Salt Lake City, UT where she had a small amount of experience playing violin through the school’s violin program. In 6th Grade, she joined the orchestra under the direction of Mary Snider and was easily persuaded to switch to the cello. As a student, she got involved in as many orchestral opportunities as she could, including the OMEA All-State Orchestra, the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute Orchestra, the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra, and, of course, the Tulsa Youth Symphony. These opportunities and her passion for music were the main driving force in becoming an Orchestra Director and sharing the experiences she loved so much with others. After a semester of student teaching at Union Public Schools under Pete Peterson, she received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Tulsa in 2009. Ms. Ivory was selected as a faculty member of the Union Public Schools Orchestra program in the Fall of 2009, specializing in middle school-aged groups.

Currently, she can be found performing with the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas and the Tulsa Signature Symphony and working on faculty of the University of Tulsa's Chamber Music Summer Camp. She also plays as a freelance artist and maintains a private cello studio. In her free time, Ms. Ivory enjoys traveling around the world and spending time with her parents, Russell and Marilyn, who recently moved to Albany, NY. She also enjoys spending time with her nephew, Killian, her sister, Alicia, and brother-in-law, Brent who live in the Oklahoma City metro area. Ms. Ivory loves adventure and has an unquenchable thirst for experiencing all that this world has to offer as well as making memories that she can take with her always.