Neil Weisensel

Neil Weisensel
Region: Prairie
Neil Weisensel

Profile Type: Conductor

Biography:

Composer and conductor Neil Weisensel is one of the most frequently-performed and prolific opera composers in Canada. Well-versed in a multiplicity of styles and genres, Neil has also written music for theatre productions, television, film, and multi-media. His latest project is a new musical dramatic work based on the life of Louis Riel, entitled Riel’s Heart of the North, a major Canada Council New Chapters commission. Heart of the North (libretto by Suzanne Steele) premiered in March 2019 with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. Vancouver Opera premiered his opera Stickboy (libretto by internationally-recognized spoken word poet Shane Koyczan) in October of 2014, and went on to tour BC. Weisensel’s six other operas (Gisela in her Bathtub, City Workers in Love, The Bachelor Farmers of the Apocalypse, Merry Christmas Stephen Leacock, The Master’s Stroke and Secret Service) have seen 146 total performances across Canada and the US. His incidental music for Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre production of the stage play It’s A Wonderful Life continues to be in demand, most recently in Kansas and Wisconsin. Recent highlights include productions of City Workers in Love in Edmonton with OperaNUOVA and at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg , a production of Gisela in her Bathtub in Halifax, and a production of City Workers in Love at University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. The USA premiere of a new orchestral version of Gisela in her Bathtub took place at Kent State University in Ohio in March 2017.
For 8 years Neil was Guest Conductor of the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting repertoire that included the Requiems of Mozart, Verdi, Fauré, John Rutter, and Duruflé along with other choral/orchestral works like Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Barber’s Adagio. Neil has been a conductor/music director for many professional ensembles including Vancouver New Music, Vancouver Opera, Edmonton Opera, Little Opera Company, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Arts Club Theatre, University of Manitoba, and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra. In Winnipeg, Neil co-directs World Village Gospel Choir, a 70-voice auditioned choir that sings Gospel and World Music, and SummerChör, a non-auditioned choir that performs choral masterpieces with orchestras in the summer
With his wife Rachel Landrecht, Neil co-composed and performed an original song, I Feel a Change Today, for former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation in Vancouver. Neil also had an exclusive engagement performing solo piano at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. He and Rachel have provided keynote musical presentations for Oscar winner Al Gore and also for Justin Trudeau, and Neil’s big band collaboration with superstar Michael Bublé earned him a Genie nomination.
Neil has received grants, fellowships, and commissions from The National Endowment for the Arts (U.S.), the Canada Council, Opera.ca, the Manitoba and BC Arts Councils, OPERA America, the Vancouver Opera Guild, and the Banff Centre. He holds advanced music degrees from UBC (Composition) and from the University of Manitoba, and is Adjunct Professor at Canadian Mennonite University teaching Theory and Composition. Neil lives in Winnipeg, Canada with Rachel and daughter Miracle.

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