Wesley Shulz

Bozeman Symphony music director candidate Wesley Schulz. 

Orchestra and symphony performances can be intimidating for folks who aren’t familiar with classical music. Bozeman Symphony music director candidate Wesley Schulz wants to change that.

“My hope with any symphony [I’m involved with] is that we create an inclusive environment,” said Schulz, 37.

Schulz is the fourth candidate to visit Bozeman vying for the position of music director, a mix between a conductor and a public face for the symphony. Two more candidates will visit and conduct before the end of the symphony’s 52nd season in May.

Schulz said if he gets the position, he hopes to make classical music more approachable to people who haven’t seen a symphony performance. He also hopes to foster collaborations with other artistic groups in the community, including more “outside of the artistic box” collaborations with visual and culinary artists.

Schulz grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, where he said he was lucky enough to go to schools with well-rounded music programs. He began learning cello when he was 3 or 4, and expanded into percussion in public school bands and orchestras.

When he began college at Ball State University, from which he holds a bachelor degree in percussion performance and music education, Schulz wanted to be a high school music teacher. He later decided to go the conducting route and received his doctorate and master’s degrees in orchestral conducting from the University of Texas Austin.

He’s now the associate conductor of the North Carolina symphony and the music director of the Auburn Symphony Orchestra in Washington.

He previously served as music director to several symphonies and the director of orchestras at the University of Puget Sound.

“I’m very grateful to have a life in music,” Schulz said. “It’s a pretty fortunate thing.”

Each visiting conductor chooses a piece or two to add to the concert program to introduce the symphony to their style of choice. Schulz chose “Overture No. 1 in E Minor” by Louise Farrenc, which he said compliments the Bach and Brahms pieces already on the program. He also chose it in part because Farrenc was a woman composer, and he says he wants to see more representation in classical music.

“I just try to be a really positive force in the music world,” said Schulz.

Schulz will conduct the Bozeman Symphony during performances on Jan. 25 and 26 at the Willson Auditorium in Bozeman.

Profiles of previous visiting music director candidates Stefan Sanders, Andrew Crust and Norman Huynh can be found on the Chronicle’s website.

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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