David Stewart Wiley, music director of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra in Virginia and the Long Island Philharmonic in New York, has been named “2009 Citizen of the Year” in the arts category by the Roanoke branch of the NAACP. The award is being made in honor of Wiley’s “lasting and deep commitment to students of all ages and backgrounds” through the Friends of the RSO, a prominent African-American support group for the orchestra. During his twelve years as RSO’s music director, Wiley has developed an educational program, coaching and accompany young African-American musicians; the program culminates in an annual musicale, held in rotating black churches and community centers in the greater Roanoke area. Among Wiley’s other contributions are creating and hosting “The Route to the Symphony,” where renowned black composers and performers meet members of the community as part of their residency with the RSO; and his “Jazz Meets Classical” performances and CD, designed to break down barriers between jazz and classical music. Artists who have performed with the RSO include Lou Rawls, Mercedes Ellington, Jennifer Holiday, the Pointer Sisters, Kool & the Gang, Kevin Maynor, and Ben E. King; this season Natalie Cole and Aaron Neville will perform with the orchestra. Wiley will be honored at an awards banquet on September 25.

Posted September 18, 2009

David Stewart Wiley headshot and photo of Wiley with music students from greater Roanoke, courtesy Roanoke Symphony Orchestra