Music Director and El Paso Youth Orchestra Conductor
JAMES O. WELSCH is in his third year as Music Director and General Manager of The El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras and Associate Conductor of The El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Welsch completed his doctorate in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Texas at Austin, studying with Gerhardt Zimmermann, Jerry Junkin and Kelly Kuo, where he served as a Music Director and Conductor of the University of Texas University Orchestra and as Assistant Conductor to The University of Texas Symphony Orchestra as well as Assistant Conductor with The Butler Opera Center. He also held the position of Assistant Conductor for Peter Bay and the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
Welsch received an M.Mus. in orchestral conducting from Syracuse University and a B.Mus. in theory and composition from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. He has studied composition with Joseph Krienes, Kari Juusela, Dan Godfrey, and Sydney Hodkinson. As a conductor, Welsch has worked closely with Anthony Hose, Duncan Couch, Bobby Adams, and James Tapia with additional seminars with Timothy Reynish, Jim Croft, Raffi Armenian, and Jorma Panula.
As Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Composition and Conducting at Syracuse University, he conducted the Contemporary Directions Ensemble (CDE), served as associate/assistant conductor of the Syracuse University Symphony Orchestra and founded the Setnor Brass Choir. In addition to his University responsibilities, he was a classical music and opera critic for the Syracuse Post Standard, director of music ministries at Liverpool First United Methodist Church in Liverpool, New York, and served as an associate/cover conductor for the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestras.
Welsch has worked with notable ensembles and organizations as conductor, including: Zilker Park Theatre, the former Syracuse Symphony, Society for New Music (Syracuse, NY), The Orlando Philharmonic, Syracuse University Wind Ensemble, Stetson University Symphonic Band, The Greater Syracuse Ecumenical Choir and Orchestra and the Syracuse University Oratorio Society.
In 2012 Welsch returned to Stetson University as a member of the faculty, teaching Music Theory and Aural Training and serving as assistant conductor of the University Symphony Orchestra.
A highlight concurrent with Welsch’s appointment in El Paso has been his appointment as the first Music Director and Conductor of Orquesta Filarmónica Juvenil México-USA, “The Bridge.” This binational orchestra debuted in 2017, when approximately 300 young musicians performed in Ciudad Juarez and El Paso—sister cities connected by a bridge that spans the Rio Grande. The exhilarating power of music to transcend borders has been publicly lauded by Yo-Yo Ma and other renowned musicians. The concerts generated news in both countries, reaching U.S. media including ABC Radio, the Dallas Morning News, and Krista Tippett’s “On Being” at NPR.
Dr. Welsch is committed to nurturing and mentoring musicians at varied stages of development. He has an extensive and diverse repertoire of music for full orchestra, ensembles opera and musical theater, and as a musical leader he encourages young musicians to learn and perform in ways that help them fulfill their individual goals and talents while they contribute to the success of the entire orchestra, which works to embody diversity in the organization and in programming always.
His compositions include various chamber works, several works for wind ensemble and concert band, and five chamber operas. These works, as well as his original orchestrations and arrangements, are often performed in concerts and contests throughout the country.