Wilson Southerland

Assistant Professor of Opera

Assistant Music Director, Eastman Opera Theatre




American pianist, coach, and conductor Wilson Southerland is in demand throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. His engagements have included recitals and concerts at Wigmore Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, the Apollo Theater, Steinway Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Villa D’Éphrussi Palace near Nice, France. During the 2015-16 academic year, Mr. Southerland served on the faculty of The University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa as the first faculty vocal coach in the school’s 185-year history. He ushered in the 2014-15 season as associate conductor, head coach, and language specialist on Puccini’s La Rondine at the New Israeli Opera, featuring soprano Angela Gheorghiu.

As principal coach, pianist, and assistant conductor, Mr. Southerland has worked at opera companies and festivals across the world, including Seattle Opera, Opera Omaha, Opera Birmingham, Spoleto Festival USA, the Chautauqua Institution, Gotham Chamber Opera, Opera Africa (Pretoria, South Africa), The Royal Opera (Muscat, Oman), Si parla, si canta (Urbania, Italy), and the American Institute of Musical Studies (Graz, Austria). He made several notable debuts as Associate Conductor during Benjamin Britten’s 2013 centenary: The Turn of the Screw at New Israeli Opera, The Rape of Lucretia at Opera Memphis, and Peter Grimes at Des Moines Metro Opera. Mr. Southerland worked closely with Maestro Lorin Maazel for many years, both at his Castleton Festival (as senior coach, assistant conductor, and pianist) and at the New York Philharmonic (as rehearsal pianist). He accompanied the esteemed conductor-violinist in recital at the Kennedy Center, and served as primary pianist under his baton for all of Britten’s chamber operas.

Mr. Southerland made his conducting debut to high acclaim with Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles at North Carolina Opera, and subsequently made his New York conducting debut featuring members of Jane Eaglen’s Wagner Institute in a program of Wagner scenes. In 2013 he was the principal guest conductor for Eastman Opera Theatre’s production of She Loves Me, and he spends his summers as a principal conductor at The Ohio Light Opera. Last season he conducted Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at The University of Alabama. As a pianist, Mr. Southerland has played under such conducting luminaries as Sir Neville Marriner, Charles Dutoit, Benton Hess, Frédéric Chaslin, David Stern, Steven White, and Lorin Maazel.

Mr. Southerland holds a Bachelor of Music from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Music from The Juilliard School.