MATTHEW WARDELL (b. 1983) began his tenure as Music Director and Conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra in 2009. When appointed Music Director of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, the Ocala Star Banner declared, “Wardell brings an impressive resume of musical and conducting training … Maybe more important than his musical credentials is Wardell’s youthful enthusiasm and unabashed zest … Wardell is not only a daring and dynamic choice as the Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s new conductor, but a smart one.”
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Wardell began his undergraduate work in percussion and composition at the University of Florida and received his Bachelor of Music cum laude at the University of North Florida working under Charlotte Mabrey. Wardell continued his education by earning a Master of Music at the University of Florida and is currently completing his Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree there with his mentor, Raymond Chobaz. Wardell has served as a guest conductor with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Gainesville Orchestra, Florida Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Ocala Civic Theatre. In addition to purely orchestral pursuits, he thrives in the theatre and has appeared as conductor for the fully staged productions of A Little Night Music, La Bohème, Tosca, The Miraculous Mandarin, Phantom of the Opera, Susannah, The Impresario, Dido and Aeneas, Die Fledermaus, Sunday in the Park with George, and Camelot. As a composer, Wardell wrote music for the award-winning NPR podcast, Odd Ball, and co-wrote a new full-length score to the 1923 silent film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Wardell spent five summers at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestra Musicians in Hancock, Maine studying with Maestro Michael Jinbo. He was fortunate to have been recognized as both an Osher and Quimby Family Foundation scholar and serve several summers in Hancock as an Orchestra Assistant. Wardell has been selected and participated in masterclasses with Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops and BBC Orchestra, Thomas Cockrell of the University of Arizona, and studied for an extended time with conductor and composer Peter WesenAuer in Salzburg, Austria.
Matthew is a champion of all kinds of music. He believes programming traditionally core repertoire hand in hand with underrepresented composers and new music believing that good music is just that – good music. He is a member of the American Symphony Orchestra League and has served on the boards of the Ocala Municipal Arts Commission (OMAC), Young Professionals of Ocala (YPO), and The Centers. In addition to his musical pursuits, Wardell is passionate about being involved in his community and served six years as an elected official on Ocala’s City Council from 2015 to 2021. He enjoys traveling, good company, and attending Jacksonville Jaguars games – and even once attended a game that the Jaguars won. In 2019, he married the love of his life and partner, Pamela Calero. Matthew and Pamela have one dog, Buckley, who is probably up to no good at this very moment.