Caleb Wenzel’s artistic life lives at the crossroads of performance disciplines and stylistic genres. Winner of the 2019 Respighi Prize in Conducting, Caleb's vibrant and infectious energy on the podium is equally at home with symphony orchestras, choral ensembles, experimental new music, historical instrument ensemble, opera, and musical theatre. With an active performance calendar that includes engagements as a conductor, pianist, composer, chamber musician, and music pedagogue, Caleb enjoys the rare profile of a complete musician. He currently serves as Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Grand Rapids Community College.
Committed to the music of living composers, Caleb serves as the Conducting Area Coordinator and as Principal Conductor of the American Creators Ensemble at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium at University of Oregon, a position he has held since 2016. He has guest conducted performances for the Chicago Latino Music Festival, American Bach Society, University of British Columbia Chamber Orchestra Festival, and Kammerphilharmonie Graz. In June 2019, Caleb made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting Chamber Orchestra of New York. He returns to CONY as the 2021/22 Apprentice Conductor, which will culminate in assisting CONY on their next recording project for NAXOS.
A passionate music educator, Caleb has been involved in most major music education initiatives throughout Northern Indiana, serving as Music Director of the Elkhart County Youth Honors Orchestra and Conducting Fellow of the South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestra. As Director of Choirs at John Adams High School in South Bend, he supervised the School Corporation’s largest choral program. During his four-year tenure as Associate Conductor of Ensemble CONCEPT/21, he mentored young composers through EC/21’s New Voices in Michiana education initiative, often connecting student composers with some of the nation’s top professional composers and composition teachers. As a music education advocate, Caleb works to support music educators at all phases of professional experience in his role as Music Educators Program Director at the Conducting Institute of Caminos del Inka under the directorship of eminent conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya.
As a director of collegiate vocal ensembles, Caleb has made a substantial contribution to expanding the vibrant undergraduate vocal performance offerings at University of Notre Dame. There, he served as Music Director of Our Lady’s Consort, a highly selective undergraduate chamber choir, for three seasons. He also served as the founding Artistic Director of Gold & Blue Co., a vocal performance troupe performing a broad range of vocal genres including pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop, musical theatre, reggaetón, and folk music. Caleb contributed to Notre Dame’s new Musical Theatre minor as a staff music director for mainstage productions and as the piloting director of the Musical Theatre Vocal Lab.
Accomplished as both a pianist and composer, Caleb’s works have been performed throughout the USA, in Poland, England, and Japan at venues as varied as Saint Mary’s Basilica in Minneapolis to the Library of Congress in Washington DC. He regularly performs as a concerto soloist and as a recitalist of both solo repertoire and chamber music. He has recently presented programs in Dallas, Baltimore, Minneapolis, and New York City. He has twice performed as a guest recitalist for the Walden Chamber Music Society in Buena Vista, Colorado, where he will return in 2022 to inaugurate an international recital tour performing the complete Well-tempered Clavier of Johann Sebastian Bach in celebration of the 300th anniversary of its composition.
Caleb is a graduate of University of Notre Dame where he completed a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Conducting under the mentorship of renowned Venezuelan-American conductor Carmen-Helena Téllez. He previously studied at The Catholic University of America, where he served as University Organist, and at Saint John’s University (Minnesota). His conducting teachers include John Farrer, Dirk Brossé, Howard Williams, Nancy Menk, Jan Harrington, and Leo Nestor.
Degrees and Certifications
- University of Notre Dame: D.M.A. in Conducting
- The Catholic University of America: M.M. in Choral Music
- Saint John's University: B.A. in Piano Performance and Composition