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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Matthew Wardell signs contract extension with Ocala Symphony Orchestra through 2027

Matthew Wardell, the Music Director and Conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, has signed a three-year contract extension through the end of the orchestra’s 2026-2027 season.

In addition, Wardell will serve in a new role as the Artistic Advisor for the Reilly Arts Center, where he will continue to help shape the artistic vision for the Ocala Symphony Orchestra (OSO), Reilly Arts Center, Marion Theatre, and the Community Music Conservatory.

Matthew Wardell Photo by Brittany Bishop
Matthew Wardell has signed a contract extension with the Ocala Symphony Orchestra through the 2026-27 season. (Photo: Brittany Bishop)

According to a media release, Wardell’s contract extension was approved by the Ocala Symphony Orchestra and Reilly Arts Center Board of Directors on Thursday, January 18.

“The decision to extend Wardell’s contract comes as a result of the exceptional leadership, artistic vision, and positive impact he has had on the Ocala Symphony Orchestra over the past 15 years,” reads the media release from OSO. “Wardell’s ability to connect with musicians and audiences alike has fostered a vibrant and dynamic musical community.”

Under the continued guidance of Wardell, the orchestra looks forward to the next chapter while aiming to further enrich the community’s cultural landscape.

Since 2009, Wardell has led OSO in over 200 performances. He also helped expand the orchestra’s repertoire to include film scores, pops and classical collaborations, multimedia works, and several world premiere performances.

Wardell has worked with over 30 of OSO’s Young Artist Competition winners, and he also founded the Ocala Symphony Chorus.

During Wardell’s time with OSO, the orchestra has grown from a low-budget nomadic ensemble to a group that owns and operates its own hall with a nearly $3 million annual budget.

Wardell recently made guest appearances with the New England Philharmonic in Boston, the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, and the Gainesville Orchestra. In addition to his work with professional orchestras, Wardell has a decade of experience in various roles, including interim director of orchestral studies, visiting lecturer, associate/assistant conductor, adjunct faculty member, and visiting artist at universities and colleges.

Wardell holds degrees from the University of North Florida (B.M.) and the University of Florida (M.M., D.M.A.), and he is currently the Interim Director of Orchestral Activities at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Last week, Matthew Wardell’s wife, Pamela Calero Wardell, announced that she is stepping down as Executive Director of the Reilly Arts Center and Ocala Symphony Orchestra due to a new role she accepted with the Jacksonville Symphony.

Longtime Executive Director leaving Reilly Arts Center Ocala Symphony Orchestra
Matthew and Pamela Wardell

Pamela Wardell will transition into the role of Senior Director of Development with the Jacksonville Symphony in February. As a result, the Wardells are in the process of moving to the Jacksonville area.

Despite the change of scenery, Matthew Wardell will continue to enthusiastically lead the Ocala Symphony Orchestra as its Music Director and Conductor.