John Wilson (conductor)
John Wilson (born 1972) is a British conductor, arranger and musicologist who specialises in music for the small and big screens, as well as Big Band jazz and light music. He is the creator of the John Wilson Orchestra.
Wilson was born in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. He attended Breckenbeds Junior High School in Low Fell, then Heathfield Senior High School. In the late 1980s he studied music at A-level at Newcastle College, where he conducted a variety of ensembles including a 96-piece orchestra and choir for a concert version of West Side Story. He wrote and directed his own pantomime during this period and he also conducted for many local amateur dramatic societies. Later he studied composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music, and during this time won the Tagore Gold Medal for outstanding academic excellence.
In addition to conducting a number of British-based orchestras, Wilson is also an arranger and orchestrator and has produced a number of orchestrations for film, radio and television. In 2000 he orchestrated Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's incidental music for a BBC production of Gormenghast. This scoring won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Film Score. Wilson orchestrated and conducted Howard Goodall's score for the 2002 BBC film The Gathering Storm about the life of Winston Churchill.
Wilson's interest in historical film scores has led to his restoring a number of classic film scores and he is currently reconstructing the orchestrations of all the major MGM musicals, especially those by Conrad Salinger. Many of the original film scores were destroyed by MGM in 1969, and left only the short scores or piano scores, from which Wilson used as a guide when reconstructing. He described in an interview that “transcribing music from the soundtrack is an incredibly laborious process and sometimes it’s very, very slow going. The cyclone sequence from The Wizard Of Oz took forever. I remember spending a whole Sunday doing three or four seconds worth of music, so complex is that scene, with notes flying all over the page!”  In 2004 Wilson was appointed the music director for the Hollywood feature film Beyond the Sea, a biopic of the life of Bobby Darin starring Kevin Spacey. In 2007 he conducted a BBC Proms concert of British film music, followed in 2009 by a celebration of MGM Musicals, and made a further appearance in the 2010 Proms celebrating Rodgers and Hammerstein. He made a further Proms appearance in the 2011 season, entitled "Hooray for Hollywood", featuring his orchestra with the Maida Vale Singers and soloists. In 2012 he and his orchestra made another two performances at the BBC Proms. The first performance was a complete reconstruction of My Fair Lady which was broadcast on radio, the second was a tribute to the composers and arrangers of "The Broadway Sound" shown on BBC Two.
- Ivan Hewett, "John Wilson's plea for 'light music'", 24 June 2009, The Daily Telegraph
- Chuff Media (2011). "That’s Entertainment: A Celebration of the MGM Film Musical". [CD Booklet]. London: EMI Classics
- BBC Proms: John Wilson Archive
- BBC Prom 2: My Fair Lady
- BBC Prom 59: The Broadway Sound
- RCM Staff Profile - John Wilson
- Interview at MusicalCriticism.com