Scott Wheeler was born in Washington DC. He studied at Amherst College, New England Conservatory and Brandeis University (Ph.D., 1984), where his principal teachers were Lewis Spratlan and Arthur Berger. He pursued further study at the Tanglewood Music Center (with Olivier Messiaen), the Dartington School (with Peter Maxwell Davies), and privately with Virgil Thomson. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston, where he co-directs the BFA program in musical theatre. In 1975 he was a founding member of the new-music ensemble Dinosaur Annex, which he continues to direct and conduct.
Mr. Wheeler's most recent commission is for an opera for the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theatre. Other commissions and performances include the orchestras of Minnesota, Houston, Toledo and Indianapolis, as well as New York City Opera, sopranos Renée Fleming and Lauren Flanigan, baritone Sanford Sylvan, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Scott Wheeler's opera Democracy: An American Comedy, on a libretto of Romulus Linney, was commissioned by the Washington National Opera and premiered by them in January 2005. His first opera, The Construction of Boston, will be released on the Naxos American Classics series. Other works can be heard on GM Recordings, Northeastern Records, Palexa, Koch International and Newport Classic.
In January 2007, Kent Nagano and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin commissioned a new chamber symphony called City of Shadows, which was featured on a portrait concert of the music of Scott Wheeler at the Kammermusiksaal of the Berlin Philharmonie. 2008 commissions included the Marilyn Horne Foundation, ASCAP Foundation, Concert Artists Guild, Boston Cecilia, and the Rivers School at Weston.
As a composer, Scott Wheeler has received awards and commissions from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Koussevitsky Foundation, the Fromm Foundation, Tanglewood, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artist Foundation, Yaddo, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the MacDowell Colony, as well as the Stoeger Prize for excellence in chamber music from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He was a Distinguished Visitor at the American Academy in Berlin in 2007.
As a conductor, Scott Wheeler has appeared with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestra Berlin, the Chamber Ensemble of St. Luke's in New York, the Wellesley Composers Conference, and Dinosaur Annex. His conducting performances can be heard on the Bridge, CRI, Capstone and Newport Classic labels. His performance of Arthur Levering's Twenty Ways Upon the Bells was nominated for a Grammy Award. He has conducted the premieres of over a hundred new works, as well as the Boston premieres of works by Poul Ruders, Gyorgy Ligeti, Judith Weir, Peter Maxwell Davies, and many others. At Emerson College, Wheeler has also conducted productions of the musical theatre works of Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Weill, George Gerswhin, Stephen Sondheim and many others.