Dr. Brian S. Wilson

Music Theory Program Director, Jewish Studies Program Director

Brian Wilson Headshot
GMC 2077

My background is in trombone, piano, music education, composition and conducting and thus I have taught just about every course in the curriculum.  Versatility is my curse!  I love teaching music theory and conducting groups for special projects.  I teach Diatonic Harmony, Chromatic Harmony, Form and Analysis, 20th century Techniques, Music Theory for non-majors and Survey of Jewish Musics.  I was formerly the SSU Director of Bands and Department Chair for 13 years.  I also have been known to sweep the floors, wash the windows and take out the trash!  You can see a list of my compositions and hear some samples on my website, brispace, at http://brianswilson.com/

A versatile composer, arranger, conductor and educator, Brian Scott Wilson (b. 1962, Lynn, MA) creates music with economy, purpose and humor. Winner of the International Trombone Association Composition Competition for The Avanti, Wilson’s scoring and sense of pacing have earned him a reputation as a master of craft.

Finding inspiration in the music of Stravinsky, Mingus and Varese, Wilson’s eclectic style utilizes classic and jazz elements in a way that feels simultaneously familiar and new. His jazz-inflected harmonies are evident in the whimsical Modes of Transportation for orchestra as well as the elegiac Orange Was Her Color for wind band. His deep spirituality finds expression in works as diverse as Klezmer Concerto for clarinet and Prayer for Peace for women’s choir and orchestra. Premieres of 2014 included The Mixed Multitude for violin, cello, clarinet, horn and piano; Nocturne for alto saxophone and piano commissioned by Polish saxophonist Ryszard ZoledziewskiGuanabana for jazz combo; Stood the Seraphim for brass and organ; and a concert of his revised opera, Agamemnon. Recent publications include Aamer August and Estonian Folk Song Suite for band; Nocturne for alto saxophone and piano; And Ezra the Scribe Stood Upon a Pulpit for violin, horn and piano commissioned by Music in the Mishkan, San Francisco.

As a doctoral student at the University of Arizona, Wilson “cracked the code” of Percy Grainger’s distinctive musical signature, then “dished up” original wind band arrangements of Grainger’s “The Jolly Sailor,” “The Cutting of the Hay” and “Lord Maxwell’s Goodnight” cast in that composer’s archetypal style. Wilson’s extensive collaboration with klezmer clarinetist Robin Seletsky has resulted in several original works for klezmer band and a widely acclaimed arrangement of Rumania! for klezmer band and orchestra.Wilson received his Bachelor’s degree in Composition and Music Education from New England Conservatory, Master’s in Composition from the University of Chicago, and Doctorate in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Arizona. His principal teachers include Malcolm Peyton, Edward Diamente, Dan Asia, Ralph Shapey and Shulamit Ran (composition) and Barbara Schubert, Michael Walters, Gregg Hanson and Kurt Klippstater (conducting).

Formerly Music Director of the University of Detroit Classic Theatre Study Abroad program, Wilson has participated in conducting master classes by Frederick Fennell and Sergiu Commissiona. An inveterate traveller, he has guest conducted his works in Russia, Israel, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Estonia, Korea, Costa Rica, Canada, France, Switzerland and throughout the US, and spent part of a recent sabbatical doing research in France and Germany.

Wilson is Professor of Music at Sonoma State University (9,000 enrolled) where he currently teaches upper level music theory and served as Music Department Chair (13 years) and Director of the Jewish Studies program. A master educator, he has instructed courses in  theory, conducting, orchestration, arranging, methods classes and European Music Survey. His areas of private instruction include piano, jazz piano, trombone, composition, orchestration and arranging. In his previous appointment as Director of Music Education,  he instituted the university wind ensemble which increased to 70 members in five years; supervised student teachers and internships; and authored the Single Subject Matter response document for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. During his tenure as department chair he has instituted major curricular reform, chaired numerous search committees, hosted summer workshops, and developed national and international recruitment materials.

For more information, visit http://brianswilson.com/