Music Director Search

Philharmonia Northwest is conducting a search for its next Music Director! After months of deliberation, we’re proud to present our four outstanding finalists – Christopher T. F. Hanson, Michael Wheatley, Stephen Rogers Radcliffe, and Bobby Collins – each of whom will present a concert with the orchestra throughout our 2023-24 Season. Join us in welcoming these conductors to our podium, and help us write the next chapter in Philharmonia Northwest history!

Read below to get to know our finalists, as well as find dates, venues, and more information for each of their performances.

See all four finalists’ concerts, plus our holiday concert with Kirkland Choral Society, for one low price – buy Season Tickets! Click here to order.

Red Stiletto


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2023 @ 2:00PM

Conductor, violinist, composer, pedagogue, philosopher, and musicologist; Dr. Christopher T. F. Hanson enjoys working across a number of disciplines to promote the transformative power of the arts. Dr. Hanson holds three master’s degrees from Texas State University in Music History, Music Theory, and Music Composition. He also holds a PhD in School Improvement from Texas State University, as well as a certificate of professional ethics from the Texas State Philosophy program.

As a violinist and composer, Dr. Hanson has premiered several works across multiple genres and serves as the chief arranger and first violinist of the Sacred Ensemble with Dr. Shana Mashego. Dr. Hanson regularly performs with his wife, mezzo-soprano Erin Hanson, in a chamber music series entitled “Sonatas & Songs” which explores a unique repertoire of music written for solo voice and violin.

Dr. Hanson is an assistant professor of music at Seattle Pacific University where he serves as the director of music education and orchestral activities. He has developed and instructs a number of courses in music and education, including but not limited to: Applied Pedagogy of Strings, Making Music with Diverse Learners, Foundations of Music Education, Teaching instrumental music in public schools, Teaching Music in the Non-Music Classroom, Advocacy in the Arts, and a number of courses that explore creativity, imagination, and interdisciplinary pedagogy. His research focuses on the transformative power of the arts, student and teacher agency, and the significance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) in education. As a queer scholar, Dr. Hanson uses research platforms to challenge and “queer” professional spaces of teaching and learning, particularly within and through the arts.

Before his current position at SPU, Dr. Hanson worked as a public school teacher in central Texas for eight years. He designed, implemented, and taught unique curricula for music appreciation, AP music theory, and string orchestra in both middle school and high school. Hanson played a crucial role in reviving the public school strings program in San Marcos CISD through public advocacy for the arts within the community.

Dr. Hanson is the founder and former artistic director of the San Marcos Artist Retention and Training (SMART) Orchestra in San Marcos, Texas. The SMART Orchestra is a community music ensemble that promotes the transformative power of the arts by engaging its members and audiences in the orchestral experience. Hanson served as the artistic director for 10 years, from 2009 to 2019.

Currently, Dr. Hanson serves as the Director of the Rainbow City Orchestra (RCO), a community music ensemble that serves and supports the LGBTQIA+ community in greater Seattle through the study and performance of contemporary and historically marginalized composers. The Rainbow City Orchestra is one of several ensembles under the umbrella of Rainbow City Performing Arts (RCPA), of which Hanson also serves as Artistic Director.

Dr. Hanson moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2019, and lives with his partner Erin and children, Emily and Graham, in Tukwila, WA.



SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2023 @ 2:00PM

Active as a conductor and classical music educator, Maestro Wheatley is the Music Director and Conductor of Skagit Symphony. Prior to this, he held the posts of Assoc. Conductor of the American Youth Philharmonic, Music Director of the Seven Hills Sinfonietta (Cincinnati, OH), and Assoc. Conductor of the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra. During his tenure with the Seven Hills Sinfonietta, Maestro Wheatley established a reputation as a builder of orchestras and audiences. Now leading Skagit Symphony along similar evolutionary steps, his orchestra has grown by over a third to nearly 80 musicians, has debuted an annual Skagit Pops! concert program, and has set new records in season subscribers and concert goers.

Dr. Wheatley 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. Equally dedicated to guiding young orchestral players, he has led the student orchestras of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, the Pierre Monteux School Festival Orchestra, the Eastman School of Music, and the St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony (Russia).

Dr. Wheatley’s conducting teachers have included Christopher Zimmerman, David Zinman, Vassily Sinaisky, and Neil Varon. He is an alumnus of the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, Peter the Great Music Academy (Russia), and the College-Conservatory of Music (Univ. of Cincinnati). In 2019 he was awarded his Doctorate of Music Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. He has collaborated with soprano Renée Fleming, violinist David Kim, clarinetist Eric Mandat, pianist Sandra Wright Shen, and Pulitzer-winning composers John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Kevin Puts, and Jennifer Higdon.

In addition to his work as a conductor, Dr. Wheatley is a frequent clinician and also performs as a violinist. As a chamber musician he has collaborated with members of the Grammy-winning LaSalle and Tokyo String Quartets. He has recorded on the Centaur and Claremont record labels.



SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2024 @ 2:00PM

Since his Lincoln Center conducting debut in 1986, Stephen Rogers Radcliffe has been recognized for his electrifying, musically acute performances; his passionate dedication to the nurturing of young talent and his innovative approach to audience development; and artistic enrichment in the musical institutions with which he has served.

For over a decade Maestro Radcliffe served as Music Director of both the Marrowstone Music Festival and the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras, where his leadership raised the organizations to national prominence as America’s largest youth orchestra training programs. An artist, educator, and scholar, Maestro Radcliffe was the Harry and Mildred Bemis Endowed Fellow in Musicology at Brandeis University; Director of Orchestra and Opera Programs at the University of Massachusetts; and Staff Conductor of the Boston Lyric Opera, Seattle Opera, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

From 1987 to 1997 Mr. Radcliffe was the Music Director of the New York Chamber Ensemble, which appeared regularly at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, as well as on recordings, radio broadcasts, and international tours. As Principal Guest Conductor of the Hungarian Virtuosi, Maestro Radcliffe performed at the Franz Liszt Academy and Pest Vigado in Budapest, as well as on international tours, radio and television broadcasts and recordings.

Stephen Rogers Radcliffe is equally at home in the repertoire of symphony, ballet, opera, and musical theater. For nearly a decade he conducted the Pacific Northwest Ballet, leading the company in its educational concerts and its NEXT STEP Choreographers Showcase performances. His work with the Seattle Opera includes three world premiere performances as part of the company’s “Our Earth” commissioning project and, in 2017, he returned to the Seattle Opera for performances of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land. He has conducted the major operatic works of Puccini and Verdi, and has led “Opera in the Park” performances for thousands of music lovers in New York City. His Albany Records CD of operatic works by Gian Carlo Menotti, Douglas Moore, and Paul Hindemith has been acclaimed in Gramophone and the American Record Guide.

The roster of internationally acclaimed artists appearing in concert with Maestro Radcliffe is both distinguished and varied. Recent collaborations include performances with pianists Van Cliburn and Andre Watts; Metropolitan Opera stars Frederica von Stade, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham and Veronika Kinces; and pops artists the Moody Blues, Blood Sweat and Tears and P.D.Q Bach. Guest conducting has taken Stephen Rogers Radcliffe to leading orchestras throughout the United States, Canada, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latin America, Africa, and China. He has also been widely heard in annual broadcasts over National Public Radio.

An enthusiastic advocate of the composers of our own time, Stephen Rogers Radcliffe has commissioned and premiered numerous works, including major compositions by the distinguished American masters John Corigliano, John Harbison, George Rochberg, Ned Rorem, Aaron J. Kernis, and Joan Tower. Critically acclaimed recordings of 20th-century scores include The Music of George Rochberg on the New World label, and American Portraits, featuring chamber orchestra works by Copland, Griffes, Piston and Rorem, on Albany Records.

A prize winner of the 1988 Arturo Toscanini International Conductor’s Competition, Stephen Rogers Radcliffe was a student of Leonard Bernstein, Franco Ferrara, and Gustav Meier. He has conducted at the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals as well as at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy.



SUNDAY, MARCH 17, 2024 @ 2:00PM

Since 2015, Bobby Collins has served as Music Director and Co-Founder for The Sound Ensemble, a Seattle-based chamber orchestra that promotes diversity and equity, while seeking to be at the forefront of what it means to be a relevant orchestra in the 21st Century. He has also served as Music Director of Seattle Festival Orchestra since 2018, where he established the ensemble as the only orchestra in Seattle providing consistent, year-round access to great orchestral music for kids. In addition to this, Bobby serves as Assistant Conductor for Yakima Symphony Orchestra, a music educator, and guest conductor. With a repertoire spanning the ancient to the contemporary, Bobby has worked as a conductor and educator with the entire spectrum of orchestras.

As Co-Founder and Music Director, Bobby has contributed heavily to the growth and development of The Sound Ensemble. His work has helped establish TSE as one of the leading new music ensembles in the region. Bobby is uniquely gifted at crafting engrossing programs to enrich and entertain diverse audiences. With both Seattle Festival Orchestra and The Sound Ensemble, he has been instrumental in developing educational programs that engage kids of all ages in classical music.

Bobby has also appeared in concert with orchestras such as St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, Skagit Symphony, Saratoga Orchestra, Rainier Symphony, Cascade Symphony, Thalia Symphony, and Inverted Space Ensemble, as well as the Ludus and Leavenworth Summer Theater’s pit orchestras.