A uniquely versatile “musician’s musician,” John Whitney has distinguished himself in both classical and jazz arenas through his conducting, performance, composition, arranging, and teaching. The founding director of the Southern Tier Symphony, a fast-growing, regional orchestra based in Olean, New York, Whitney has led orchestras on three continents, including those in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Venezuela. In the U.S., he has served as guest conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic and Ohio Valley Symphony, Erie Philharmonic and Glens Falls Symphony in New York, and the New World, Westmoreland, Imperial and Brevard Symphonies in Florida. |
Other invited orchestral appearances include those with the Illinois Symphony, Florida Symphony, and symphonies of South Bend, Indiana; Savannah, Georgia; Springfield, Missouri, Dayton, Ohio and Springfield, Massachusetts. In addition, Whitney has conducted the Orlando Opera and served as music director for Ballet Orlando.
Whitney has performed with and/or conducted for a host of platinum artists, including Luciano Pavarotti, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Dave Samuels, Buddy DeFranco, Henry Mancini, Cab Calloway, Liberace, and The Irish Tenors. As a violinist, he has performed at Walt Disney World and with symphonies of Syracuse, Utica, Elmira and Brevard.
Internationally respected for his skills as a pedagogue, Whitney has taught conducting in Europe, presented workshops as a faculty member for American Symphony Orchestra League, and served as mentor to promising young American conductors. He has shared coaching with conductors that include Abravanel, Boulez, Farberman, Gould, Maazel, Mehta, Slatkin and Zinman. During his twenty-year career at University of Central Florida (UCF), Whitney served as director of both orchestral studies and the UCF Jazz Lab band, which he led in invited performances at Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland.
Recipient of acclaim for both his musicianship and his teaching, Whitney was selected sole American winner of the International Competition for Conductors in Czechoslovakia. UCF recognized Whitney for his excellence in teaching and leadership and named him premier faculty member in research and creative activities, a university-wide award. In addition, he has been invited to serve each summer since 2003 on faculty of the String Institute presented by the New York American String Teachers Association. In the past four years, Whitney’s orchestral arrangements have been performed at the Carnegie Hall “Link-UP!” youth concerts.
Alfred Publications, formerly Warner Brothers, and Theodore Presser Company have published more than forty of Whitney’s compositions and arrangements, and his “The Junk Food Blues” for string quartet was recorded by the Kronos Quartet. Whitney’s own discography includes jazz recordings by The John Whitney Trio.
A native of Glens Falls, NY, Whitney earned music degrees from Ithaca College and New England Conservatory. In addition to his service at UCF, Whitney taught 20 years in New York public schools, including those in Long Beach, Olean, Ithaca and Camillus (West Genesee Central Schools), and served as director of strings for Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. In 2007, he served SUNY Fredonia as director of orchestras.
When not pursuing musical activities, Whitney enjoys golf and time with his family, wife Kim, an accomplished violinist and violist; daughter Sarah, who is director of operations for the School for Strings in New York and recently received her master of business degree in arts administration from Columbia University; and son Ryan, who attends Allegany-Limestone High School and is active in the Boy Scouts.