Capitol Series

95th Anniversary Celebration

Thursday, May 15, 2025

Capitol Theatre
7:30 pm

We end our 95th season with a huge birthday bash, in a true celebration of our community!

The concert kicks off with a new composition from Dr. Matthew Harder, Professor of Music at West Liberty University, inspired by the impact of the WSO over the last 95 years. Equally exciting, the new Wheeling Symphony Orchestra Community Choir will make its debut on this opening piece. We will then have another world premiere—that’s two on one concert!—that pays tribute to the wide impact of the WSO and our musicians. Jonathan Kolm’s commissioned work will feature WSO Principal Cellist Elisa Kohanski, whose dedication to performing on every continent around the world inspired this composition. After intermission, the WSO warmly welcomes André Raphel, the WSO Conductor Laureate back to the stage to conduct Ravel’s whirlwind La Valse. 

The concert—and our season!—will close with Ravel’s effervescent Suite no. 2 from Daphnis and Chloe, celebrating not only our 95th anniversary but also the 150th anniversary of Ravel’s birth. This three-movement work will once again feature the Wheeling Symphony Community Choir in this musical painting of the famous fantasy story in the perfect capstone to a celebratory season. 

Returning subscriber renewals for the 2024-2025 season, Your Community In Concert, end June 24th. New subscriptions on sale June 28th. Single tickets on sale August 2nd. Contact the WSO box office at boxoffice@wheelingsymphony.com or
304-232-6191 to learn more.

Featuring

André Raphel, conductor

Acclaimed for his creative programing and versatility, conductor André Raphel is renowned for his compelling musical performances. A dynamic podium presence, he has also developed a reputation as a skilled communicator. Raphel has led critically acclaimed festivals, world premieres and commissioned works by Richard Danielpour, Jennifer Higdon, Kenneth Fuchs, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Uri Caine and Hannibal Lokumbe. Conductor Laureate of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, André Raphel led the orchestra as Music Director for 15 years. Other key positions have included, Assistant Conductor to Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic for two years. He was Assistant Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra for six years. Raphel served for three years as Assistant Conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony. Raphel enjoys a busy career as guest conductor. During the 2023/24 season, André Raphel appears with the Delaware Symphony and Wichita Symphony among others. Last season, Raphel made his subscription series debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He conducted the Minnesota Orchestra in its first-ever presentation of a Juneteenth program. Raphel has appeared with most of the major American orchestras including Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. He has led Germany’s Bamberg Symphony in two recordings for Bavarian Broadcasting. He made his Los Angeles debut conducting at the gala opening of The Broad museum. A recording of Uri Caine’s Passion of Octavius Catto with Raphel conducting has garnered acclaim. André Raphel made his European debut with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie and has also led the Moravska Philharmonie. In the United States he has appeared with the orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, Seattle, the National Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. He made his Carnegie Hall debut leading Robert Shaw and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in a concert celebrating the centennial of mezzo-soprano Marian Anderson. Raphel’s international engagements have further included appearances with the Auckland Philharmonia, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Columbia and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Costa Rica. A guest conductor at major music festivals, Raphel has led concerts at the Blossom Music Festival and Tanglewood Music Center. He has also appeared at the Mann Center, Grant Park Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, and the Campos do Jordao Festival in Brazil. Raphel has a strong commitment to education and community engagement. His commitment to education is reflected in his work at leading conservatories and training programs. He has led the Juilliard Orchestra, New World Symphony, Kennedy Center Summer Music Institute and National Orchestral Institute. During his tenure with the Saint Louis Symphony, he served as Music Director of the orchestra’s “In Unison” program, a partnership between the orchestra and local churches. Born André Raphel Smith in Durham, North Carolina he began formal music lessons at age 11. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Miami, and pursued further study at Yale University where he earned his Master’s Degree. While at Yale, he began conducting studies with Otto-Werner Mueller. He continued studies with Mueller at the Curtis Institute of Music earning a Diploma in conducting and at The Juilliard School, where he was awarded the Bruno Walter Memorial Scholarship and received an Advanced Certificate in orchestral conducting. Raphel is the recipient of numerous honors and awards which attest to his artistry. <br /> He was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Miami. The Philadelphia Orchestra issued a special commemorative CD featuring William Grant Still’s Symphony No.1 with Maestro Raphel conducting. He received the Distinguished Service Award from Yale University. Raphel is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from West Liberty University. The North Carolina Senate awarded Raphel the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine.” The award, presented annually is the state’s highest honor for a civilian.

Elisa Kohanski, Cello

Cellist Elisa Kohanski enjoys a diverse performing career, appearing regularly as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player, and championing unique collaborations with artists of other disciplines. A highly-regarded solo performer, Elisa was featured in the world premiere of Richard Danielpour’s Come Up From the Fields Father with the Wheeling Symphony. She has performed the Elgar Cello Concerto with several orchestras including the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra. Most recently with her piano trio, Trio Nova Mundi, she commissioned and premiered Spanish-American composer Elisenda Fabregas’ Triple Concerto with the Atlanta Virtuosi, under the baton of Juan Ramirez. A native Rhode Islander, Ms. Kohanski has a love of travel which, combined with her passion for music, has brought her to over 60 countries around the world. She recently visited her 7th continent, Antarctica, and performed there to an audience of people and penguins, who seemed to enjoy it! In Africa she has explored Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana. A love for Africa was the inspiration for a three-country tour of the Continent with Trio Nova Mundi, Ensemble-in-Residence at Grove City College until 2018. Ms. Kohanski, along with pianist Becky Billock and violinist Maureen Conlon Gutierrez, presented nine concerts over the course of two weeks, in addition to numerous workshops and performances for children. The African tour inspired future tours to Mexico and Chile. Ms. Kohanski has performed with dozens of top-billed artists, including the Miami String Quartet, Olivia Newton John, Robert Shaw, Garrison Keillor, Phil Keaggy, John Tesh and Harry Connick Jr., and has played in some of the most prestigious concert halls around the world. In addition to touring China and the US with the Mantovani Orchestra, she has performed in Carnegie Hall in New York City; Royal Albert Hall in London, England; Schlossfestspiele in Heidelberg, Germany; and the Stefaniensaal Concert Hall in Graz, Austria. She has performed at all of the major venues in Pittsburgh, including Heinz Hall, the Benedum Center and City Theater.<br /> Described after a Pittsburgh Ballet performance by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review as “most superb,” Ms. Kohanski was appointed the position of Principal Cellist of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 2009. She holds the same position with the Wheeling Symphony and is a member of the cello section in the Pittsburgh Opera. Elisa has performed regularly with the Pittsburgh Symphony and has also played with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, TX and the Columbus Symphony. Ms. Kohanski is a founding member of IonSound Project, the Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Pittsburgh from 2009-2019. IonSound has received critical acclaim for original programming, a fresh approach to contemporary music, and a commitment to the city of Pittsburgh. Elisa has been praised in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for her “ardent” playing in performance with IonSound Project. She was also featured on IonSound’s CD by Jeremy Beck, touted as “thoroughly engaging from top to bottom” by NewMusicBox. In addition to the IonSound CD, Elisa can be heard on several recordings ranging from orchestral to popular music including Giacinto Scelsi- The Orchestral Works 1, Daphne Alderson’s albums, Joan of Arc and 16 and Trio Nova Mundi's debut CD, Canticum.<br /> Each summer, Ms. Kohanski can be heard in performances with Music on the Hill, in which Rhode Island natives return to perform chamber concerts throughout the state. The festival repertoire ranges from J.S. Bach to Osvaldo Golijov, and regularly features world class artists such as William Preucil, James Dunham, Ronald Leonard and Daniel Gilbert. Elisa has performed in several summer festivals including the Interharmony International Music Festival in Archidosso, Italy; the AIMS Festival Orchestra in Graz, Austria; Music&More SummerFest in Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and the Heidelberg Castle Festival. A passionate educator, Ms. Kohanski currently serves as adjunct faculty at Grove City College and Washington and Jefferson College. She also maintains a private studio (ranging in age from five to seventy five). She has served on the faculties of Westminster College, Seton Hill University, Westmoreland Suzuki School, the Carlow College Campus String Program and the Carnegie Mellon Summer Strings Program. Ms. Kohanski earned her Bachelor of Music Degree from the Eastman School of Music as a student of Pamela Frame. She received her Master of Music Degree from Carnegie Mellon University where she studied with Pittsburgh Symphony cellists Anne Martindale Williams and David Premo. Other notable teachers include Timothy Terranella, Carol Pellegrino, and Elizabeth Reardon.

John Devlin, conductor

Conductor John Gennaro Devlin, is an ardent champion of American music, an innovator of concert design, and a thought leader in the field of classical music. In his fifth season as Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, Devlin is only the ninth conductor in its 90-year history to hold that title. He was recently named a recipient of the 2023 Georg Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award. Devlin’s artistry and versatility make him a frequent guest conductor with major orchestras across the nation. His engagements include performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, and the American Repertory Ballet. Of his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra and violin soloist Joshua Bell, Anne Midgette of The Washington Post wrote that Devlin “led the evening with flair … and was visibly in his element.” A strong advocate for American music, Devlin has made it a programmatic focus and has premiered over 40 new American works. Committed to serving the wider arts community beyond the podium, Devlin is part of the six-member Conductor Constituency Leadership Team of the League of American Orchestras, advocating for conductors nationally. Previously, he served on the Conductors Guild’s Board of Directors and was a featured speaker at the organization’s annual conference, discussing the future of orchestras with the Executive Directors of the National and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras. He also delivered the keynote TED talk on “Innovation in Crowded Marketplaces” at a TEDx symposium. Devlin completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in orchestral conducting under the tutelage of James Ross at the University of Maryland. His undergraduate degree is from Emory University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a double major in Clarinet Performance and Latin.