Lawrence Wheeler is an associate professor at the University of Houston Moores School of Music, where he has taught since 1977. Former Principal Viola of the Pittsburgh Symphony, he has served as Co-Principal of the Minnesota Orchestra, guest Principal with the Dallas and Houston Symphonies, and Principal Viola of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra. He has appeared as soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Icelandic National Symphony, Texas Chamber Orchestra, Hilton Head Chamber Orchestra, and the UNAM Philharmonic in Mexico City. In 2005 he gave the second US performance of the Theofanidis Viola Concerto, with the composer conducting.
Familiar to Houston audiences through numerous solo recital and chamber music appearances, Mr. Wheeler has given viola recitals in New York at Alice Tully Hall, in London at Wigmore Hall, at International Viola Congresses in Stuttgart, Rekjavik and Houston, as well as recitals in Mexico City and throughout Texas. He has performed with the Tokyo, Pro Arte and Tallis String Quartets, the Mirecourt Trio, and with Da Camera of Houston.
For several years Mr. Wheeler was violist of the Lyric Art Quartet, whose CD “Classical Hollywood” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1990. Two other CD’s include works with the Texas Festival and Picasso quartets. With pianist Ruth Tomfohrde, he made the first recordings available on CD of the Rochberg Sonata, the Bernard Heiden Sonata, and the Creston Suite, released by Albany Recordings. His recorded and live performances have been heard in Houston on KUHF, nationally on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, and throughout Europe on the BBC. A graduate of the Juilliard School, his viola teachers include William Lincer, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, Francis Tursi and Leonard Mogill. For five summers he taught at the famed Meadowmount School for Strings, and for twelve summers at the ENCORE School for Strings, where he worked with many of the most gifted of the younger generation of string players, including Leila Josefewicz, Hilary Hahn, Cheryl Staples, Robert Chen, Juliette Kang, and Laura Frautschi. He has also taught and performed at the Musicorda Summer Music Festival in Massachusetts, the Bowdoin Music Festival in Maine, and the Texas Music Festival in Houston. An advocate of music education, he has sent more violists to the Texas All-State orchestras than any private teacher of any instrument, including fifteen Symphony and three Philharmonic first-chair players. His university viola and chamber music students are members of the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and other major orchestras.
Mr. Wheeler is Founding Music Director of the Greater Houston Youth Orchestra. He has been conductor of string ensembles at the University of Houston and the High School for Performing and Visual Arts and has guest conducted several Texas Region orchestras, as well as the Texas Private Schools All-State Orchestra.
Mr. Wheeler plays a Carlo Antonio Testore viola made in Milan, Italy in 1741.