Our Conductors

Dr. Will Kesling, Ph.D. - Music Director

Dr. Will Kesling has conducted hundreds of choral ensembles and forty-six professional symphony orchestras throughout the world. His talents for weaving together text and music, chorus and orchestra have garnered him international respect. A Washington Post concert review sums his abilities in two words, “clear professionalism.” 


Dr. Kesling has conducted a number of engagements in Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as in major concert halls internationally. He served as the Associate Conductor of the Manhattan Philharmonic Orchestra, New York City, as the Principal Guest Conductor of the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Russia, and was the Music Director and Conductor of the Mountain West Symphony Orchestra, Utah for 18 years.  


Coming soon from Centaur Records, America’s largest independent record producer, is a beautiful recording of the rarely performed REQUIEM MASS, Op. 89 by Antonin Dvořák conducted by Dr. Kesling. The performing forces are the Coru Academic ,,G. Musicesscu” al Philharmonicii ,,Moldava” Iaşi and Orchestra Filarmonicii ,,Mihail Jora” Bacău of Romania with four soloists from the Rousse State Opera Sophia, Bulgaria.


Dr. Kesling spent the month of July, 2018 teaching at two universities in the Peoples Republic of China. He coached and lectured to graduate conducting students in the College of Music, Gannan Normal University, Ganzhou, and taught an undergraduate humanities course at the Beijing Foreign Studies University. Called the “Harvard of China”, BFSU is renowned for its language and cross-cultural studies programs. Dr. Kesling was selected from an international pool of Full Professors. Dr. Kesling has just been chosen as an Israeli Faculty Fellow and will work with six Israeli institutions of music during December and January 2018/19. 


A debut conducting appearance was made with Orquesta Filarmónica De Medellín (Colombia) on December 18, 2017. During the second week of July 2017, Dr. Kesling conducted a concert with del Coro del Ministerio de Educación y Deportes de la Nación in Buenos Aires, Argentina. With that choir he led twelve hours of master classes for the Asociación de Directores de Coro de la República Argentina. The week prior, Dr. Kesling made his debut with the Orquesta Camerata Jaibaná in the Teatro Metropolitano in Medellín, Colombia. 


Since his debut in 1991, Dr. Kesling has become one of the Soviet Union’s (now Russia) most popular American guest conductors. He has returned to conduct nine of the country’s top orchestras:  Moscow State Academic Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, Moscow State Chamber Orchestra, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Petersburg Radio & Television, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra Classika, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra Congress, and St. Petersburg Mozarteum Chamber Orchestra. One of the highlights of his career came in 1992 when he conducted the Moscow State Chamber Orchestra and Bolshoi Opera Chorus in the first professionally produced performance of Handel's Messiah since the institution of Communism.


Dr. Kesling has also conducted professional concerts in Brazil (Orquesta Sinfonica Brasiliera), Canada (Vancouver and Victoria Symphonies), the Czech Republic (Czech National Orchestra, National Theater Orchestra of Prague, Brno Philharmonic, Bohuslav Martinu Symphony Orchestra, Czech Virtuosi), Hungary (Budapest Chamber Orchestra), Kenya (Nairobi Symphony Orchestra), Korea (Changwon Philharmonic), Mexico (Orquestra Sinfonica Naçional), Uruguay (Orquestra Sinfonica del SODRE), Poland, and several sold out performances at the Festival Internaçional de Música in Cambrils, Spain.


Dr. Kesling was a featured conductor for the Mezinárodní Hudební Musica Ecumenica in Prague, Czech Republic. In June 2002 Maestro Kesling opened this international festival with a performance of the Verdi’s Requiem and closed the festival with Dvořák’s Te Deum and Orff’s Carmina Burana, both concerts in Smetana Hall with the National Theater Orchestra of Prague and Czech Philharmonic Chorus. On this same series in 2003 he conducted the Verdi Hymn of Nations and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Czech National Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Chorus. During the summer of 2004 Kesling celebrated the centennial of Dvořák’s death leading a rare performance of the composer’s Requiem in Prague and more.


Dr. Kesling has made his mark in Canada as well. He made his debut with the Victoria Symphony in April 2005, has logged eight appearances with the Vancouver Symphony and in May 2011 made his debut in Calgary with the Calgary Chamber Orchestra and Calgary Children’s Choir.


Domestic orchestras conducted are the Honolulu and San Diego Symphonies, the Louisiana Philharmonic in New Orleans and the Connecticut and National Chamber Orchestras, to name a few. He has also guest-conducted the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir on a national CBS broadcast. He has several commercial recordings available on both the Integra Classics and Shadow Mountain labels, and conducted the feature film scores, The Two Sisters and The Silence of Speed (GOLD MEDAL - WORLDFEST FILM FESTIVAL).


For the past fifteen years Dr. Kesling has served as the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Florida as well as the Director of the Gainesville Civic Chorus Master Chorale. Previously Dr. Kesling was the Director of Orchestra and Choral programs at Utah State University for nineteen years. Over the past thirty-eight years his college choirs have received international attention and have made multiple appearances at both national and divisional conventions for the American Choral Directors Association. In March 2002, his Utah State University Chamber Choir appeared before the combined Western and Northwestern Division Convention of the College Band Directors Association. That same month, the Utah State University Combined Choirs were featured in the Opening Ceremonies of the Paralympics on NBC. 


At the University of Florida, his choirs have appeared with the San Diego Symphony, National Philharmonic, Washington, D.C., Czech National Orchestra and the Czech National Theater Orchestra as well as the Kronos String Quartet, the Three Italian Tenors, and the Posaune Voce Trio of Birmingham, England and made a first ever American Choral Directors Association convention appearance.  All of these performances were under Dr. Kesling’s baton.


On September 11, 2004 Maestro Kesling made his debut with the National Philharmonic in Constitution Hall, Washington, DC premiering the new Revolutionary War oratorio, A Prelude to Glory. In June of 2005 in Prague Dr. Kesling conducted the Czech National Orchestra Choir Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Carmina Burana, joined by the Prague Chamber Choir. A debut performance, an all-Mozart affair, with the Varna State Chamber Orchestra and the Varna Municipal Chorus “Morski Zvutsi” (Bulgaria) was presented in July, 2010. 


Dr. Kesling has conducted numerous All State choirs and festivals. He has three years of experience conducting military choirs and bands. Professor Kesling has published scholarly choral editions and compositions with a number of publishers and has penned a number of academic articles for professional journals. He is the process of completing his 800 page treatise The Voices in My Head: A Philosophical Approach to the Issues of Choral Performance. Dr. Kesling serves on the International Editorial Boards for Scientific Journals International, Journal of Culture, Art and Design Review, and Delos: A Journal of Translation and World Literature. 


Maestro Kesling’s served as a conducting coach at The International Music Academy offered by the Gustav Mahler Conservatory of Music in Vienna, Austria (May 20 – June 2, 2013). As a part of the Academy he conducted a public performance of Spectacular Moments in Opera: Most Loved Choruses, Overtures & Arias with the Vienna Radio Orchestra and the choir from the University of Zagreb, Croatia and Gustav Mahler Conservatory Chorus. In June Dr. Kesling conducted two performances of the Brahms Tragic Overture and Ein Deutsches Requiem in Verona and Vicenza, Italy with the Croatian Chamber Orchestra and choirs from Hungary, Italy, and the United States. The review headline in L’ARENA read, Kesling baton perfect for Brahms - -  you rarely have the opportunity to perceive in a maestro a clear vision of the work which is evident by the gestures, at the same time expressive with great precision.  


On July 11, 2015 Dr. Kesling conducted on the televised closing concert for the Festival Coral de Medellín (Colombia) featuring his University of Florida Chamber Singers, Ensamble Vocal Homines Urdi (Venezuela), Ensamble Vocal de Buenos Aires (Argentina), Vox Lumini (Chile), Ensamble Vocal de Medellín (Colombia), and the Orquesta Juvenil de Medellín.  


In recognition of his achievements Dr. Kesling was awarded The Congressional Order of Merit by the Congress of the United States of America in September 2003 and the Ronald Reagan Gold Medal in November 2004. In March 2006, Professor Kesling was awarded the Congressional Medal of Distinction for his contributions to the cultural life of the citizenry. On October 12, 2013 Dr. Kesling was inducted into Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, men’s fraternity of musicians, as a National Honorary Member. Dr. Kesling received the Spirit of Gainesville Award for the Arts by the Gainesville Sun and Gainesville Magazine on November 25, 2013. In November 2017 Dr. Kesling received the Distinguished Alumni Award from his undergraduate university and International Educator of the Year for the College of the Arts at the University of Florida.