PT93: “Creating an Experience with Innovative Concert Design,” with John Devlin

Today we talk with John Devlin, Music Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, host of the Upbeat Podcast, and a founding contributor to, about how to be the least-generic version of yourself, how to design a commissioning project that’s supremely exciting and relevant to your orchestra and audiences, and how innovative concert design can elevate your performances from just another classical concert to an experience.

Today we discuss:

  • How to develop the least-generic version of yourself to stand out in an applicant pool of 300 other conductors and make a greater impact for your orchestra and your community (8:05)
  • How John created “Gourmet Symphony” by melding all aspects of the experience of fine-dining with a symphony concert, and why smaller orchestras should focus more on creating an experience rather than sacrificing innovation to just play slightly better (20:23)
  • How you can take a commission one step farther to make it relevant and significant to the composer, the orchestra, and the community (31:24)
  • The origins of John’s focus on innovative concert design, and why it’s so easy to be bored with the average orchestra concert (35:27)
  • How John and the Wheeling Symphony are thriving during COVID-19 by being creative and asking what they can do well within guidelines (40:39)
  • John’s favorite living composer, and the life-changing advice he got from Marin Alsop (53:49)

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