Dick Baynton

The greatest gift of ‘humankind’ is the birth of a child. Even though those who are agnostic or atheist and don’t believe in God must believe that the birth of an infant is a gift (as a minimum) of nature. We all have a gift to give to others and we must have the will to find that gift in our spirit and develop it into a worthwhile project, occupation, profession or passion.

Your ‘gift’ could be in medical school where you have dedicated your life to healing. Another ‘gift’ could be in religious teaching that takes prowess into the field of ministering to religious groups as priest, minister, rabbi or imam. The gift of athletic ability rewards recipients with high earnings in golf, professional basketball, baseball, football, hockey or soccer. One of the most respected gifts that a person can bring to the fore is the gift of instrumental or vocal music.

Our Maestro David Stewart Wiley, Music Director of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, found his gift with music at an early age. Sitting on his mother’s lap at age three he began playing piano on a Steinway upright.  After high school, Wiley accepted the challenge of a double degree at both Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music. He received a BA in Religion from Tufts and a BM in piano from the Conservatory.

For graduate school, Wiley selected Indiana University in Bloomington. IU is home to the Jacobs School of Music, a Conservatory established in 1921 with close to 2,000 students. Studying conducting he earned the degree of DM and was invited to join the Indianapolis Symphony as Staff Conductor in 1990. In 1993, he won the Aspen Music Festival conducting prize. Over the next couple of years he spent time at the famous Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshires of Massachusetts where he worked with several luminaries of the music world. Wiley’s talents were widely recognized and he was hired by the Minnesota Orchestra in 1994 as Assistant Conductor.

Wiley made his debut with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra (RSO) in 1995 following an international search for our fourth Conductor. Selected for the position of RSO Music Director in 1996, his first concert in Roanoke was presented with overwhelming enthusiasm in 1996. The upcoming season of 2020/2021 will be Dr. Wiley’s 25th glorious season as Music Director & Conductor with the indomitable RSO.  His tenure with the RSO has been marked by continued artistic growth, financial stability, and numerous national awards for innovative artistic and educational collaborations.  He was named Roanoke’s “Citizen of the Year” in 2015.

Wiley has conducted symphony orchestras in Atlanta, Buffalo, Boston, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Minnesota, St. Louis, Oregon, Hawaii, Utah and many countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. Currently Wiley is also the Music Director of ‘Orchestra Long Island’ (OLI) in New York.

Here in Roanoke, the RSO has presented concerts in various venues throughout the year including Elmwood Park, Berglund Performing Arts Theatre, Salem Civic Center, Hollins University as well as Holiday concerts. Check out concerts planned for 2020 at the RSO’s web site at www.rso.com.

Maestro David Stewart Wiley wields his mystical conductor’s wand attracting all ages of music lovers with his orchestral presentations. His attributes are not limited to conducting and artistry as a pianist as his composition expertise has produced the innovation of bringing classical music together with mountain music for the pleasure of audiences. David’s wife Leah, an accomplished vocalist with a private voice studio coaches student singers in ‘Honors Choir’ at a local high school and is a group fitness instructor at the Kirk Family YMCA and Green Ridge Recreation Center.

Their son ‘Misha’ is a high school junior who excels as a celloist. Daughter ‘Mara’, a high school freshman, will be displaying her talents as an assistant concertmaster – along with Misha on cello – in Carnegie Hall this spring with the Patrick Henry HS orchestra.

The citizens of Roanoke have been beneficiaries of the Wiley family and their talents for nearly 25 years, and we are looking forward to next year’s anniversary celebration season. What wonderful and generous gifts of profound sound!

Dick Baynton