Peter Wilson is an engaging and multifaceted violinist and conductor whose musicianship has been noted as “first-class” by The Washington Post. He has served as Music Director of the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra since 2007 and was appointed Music Director of the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra in 2013. The String Section Commander for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, he has performed as a violinist of The White House for over a quarter century. Highly respected throughout the National Capital Region, he is also Concertmaster of the American Festival Pops Orchestra, has guest conducted the National Symphony Orchestra and National Gallery Orchestra, and serves on the faculties of George Mason University and James Madison University as an adjunct instructor of violin. He holds music degrees from Northwestern University and The Catholic University of America where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts.
Dr. Wilson began his professional career as Concertmaster of the Walt Disney World Orchestra in Florida. For over 12 years he served as a lecturer at Catholic University where he taught courses in conducting and string techniques while serving as Resident Conductor of the University Symphony. A musician in demand for his high energy, versatility and commitment to authenticity, Dr. Wilson commands respect in a variety of musical genres and is an active guest conductor, soloist, recording artist and performance clinician throughout the United States. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2015 and has appeared as violin soloist with such legendary artists as Rosemary Clooney, Michael Feinstein, Renée Fleming, Bernadette Peters, and Trisha Yearwood. In addition, he has performed chamber music in concert with Ida Kavafian, Steven Tenenbom, and Peter Wiley. He is also cofounder and violinist of the acclaimed string duo “Bridging the Gap” (with double bassist Aaron Clay), which has been hailed for “superior arrangements and uncommon musicianship” by The Washington Post. Together Wilson and Clay were honored in their home state by receiving the Music Award from the Arts and Humanities Commission of Fairmont, West Virginia in recognition of their “outstanding leadership and devotion to the enhancement of the arts.” Most recently, Dr. Wilson was honored by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia national music fraternity as a recipient of the prestigious “Signature Sinfonian” award in recognition of his “outstanding commitment and dedication to the performing arts while serving as a successful role model, helping others realize their potential and exhibiting high standards of excellence.”
Dr. Wilson has appeared in international magazines to include The Strad, which stated, “Wilson’s performance stressed the warmth and romanticism of the music… [His] technical skills brought a sparkle to the [music] and overall, [Wilson] made music that had the stamp of quality.” The Washington Post has further observed his “pristine melodic lines” and “showering virtuosity.” He has performed such acclaimed works as John Corigliano’s “The Red Violin: Chaccone for Violin and Orchestra,” after which he was praised by the award-winning composer: “[Wilson’s] beautiful performance of my Chaconne…how gorgeous it was…and so true to the piece.” Following a performance of the Theme from “Schindler’s List” under the baton of Academy Award-winning composer John Williams, The Washington Post singled out Dr. Wilson for his “impassioned violin solo.”
Dr. Wilson has soloed in many unique venues including the Presidential Retreat at Camp David, the Vatican before Pope John Paul II, and the American Embassy in Paris. In addition, he is frequently invited to perform his moving violin solo arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner for various high-profile events to include opening Major League Baseball games at Comiskey Park for the Chicago White Sox, O.co Coliseum for the Oakland Athletics, and AT&T Park for the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants as well as annual visits to the West Virginia University Coliseum to perform the anthem prior to WVU Mountaineer Men’s Basketball Games. In 2001, Dr. Wilson honored a personal request by former Defense Secretary William Cohen to perform as solo violinist for a private book-signing event honoring Quincy Jones and the release of his autobiography “Q.” He also appeared in concert with orchestras backing up such iconic performers as Beyoncé, Ray Charles, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Johnny Mathis, and Joni Mitchell, as well as Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in their “Zeppelin UnLEDed World Tour.” Dr. Wilson has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra of Washington, DC and has served as a concertmaster for the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. He appeared on HBO as a member of the orchestra that supported the “We Are One” concert at the Lincoln Memorial, which began the 2009 Inaugural week of President Barack Obama. Also in 2009, Dr. Wilson performed with Stevie Wonder as part of a 21-piece orchestra at the Library of Congress in the World Premiere of Mr. Wonder’s “Sketches of a Life.”
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Wilson began his musical training at age 2 as a violin student of his mother. He later moved to Morgantown, West Virginia where he became the first musician ever to receive the Governor’s Award for Exceptional Achievement in the Arts. His other violin teachers included Linda Cerone, Jody Gatwood, Robert Gerle, Blair Milton, and Donald Portnoy. He studied conducting with Victor Yampolsky and the late John Paynter at Northwestern and trained with Marin Alsop and Gustav Meier. In 2008, Dr. Wilson was one of nine conductors selected to work with Leonard Slatkin in the acclaimed National Conducting Institute in Washington, DC. He served as Music Director of TYOF (The Youth Orchestras of Fairfax) in Northern Virginia (2010-13), where he conducted its flagship ensemble, the United Youth Symphony Orchestra. He maintains his commitment to working with young musicians as a frequent guest conductor for various district and regional high school honors orchestras nationwide. Having developed a passion for historically informed performances, he has researched and conducted several restorations of great American works including George Gershwin’s original jazz orchestra version of “Rhapsody in Blue.” Wilson’s personally prepared critical edition was used in
a performance at Carnegie Hall on the very stage Gershwin performed the work in 1924. In addition, he has championed Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” Concerti, performing as violin soloist and conductor. Dr. Wilson resides in Fairfax, Virginia and is the proud father of three sons.