My name is Chris Wheeler and I’m principal oboe of the Michigan Philharmonic Orchestra, based in Plymouth, MI. I also freelance around the state with various ensembles and teach a lot of private students, from beginner to college (Univ. of Michigan - Flint). The oboe is sometimes relegated to a very specific stereotype and I'm always looking for ways to expand its usage and image within the music world, with new, exciting, relevant repertoire that pays homage to its history, but also looks to its future. For awhile, I've fantasized about having a concerto written that blends both traditions and present-day influences in all aspects, from ensemble/instrumentation, to the melodies and harmonies. Well, leave it to a global pandemic to suddenly make room and time for those back burner ideas!
This commissioning project is for a concerto by local composer, Erik Santos, to be premiered by myself and the Michigan Philharmonic on April 22, 2023 and to be a part of the oboe repertoire, in general. The piece, titled "Pan," is for oboe/electronics/chamber orchestra and set as a representation of the varied qualities of the mythological character of Pan, drawing from many influences, including rock, movie, and video game music, as well as the earlier roots of the oboe, as an instrument that was primarily played outside in a more rustic fashion.
Erik is an amazing composer and rock musician (check out his band, October Babies) and I'm honored and humbled that he is interested in working with me! As we come out of these crazy times and look to rebuild, reinvent, and continually move forward and adapt, there isn't a better time to start and contribute to a new era of relevant contemporary music inspired by said times. The next generation of musicians is supremely talented and creative and we owe not only them, but ourselves, the honor of having new, exciting music that pushes boundaries for both performer and listener.
Here are some examples of Erik's musical prowess:
Donors will receive recognition in the printed scores and if so desired, social media, as well as having the option to be represented in the Michigan Philharmonic program.