Born in 1981 in Israel, Omer Meir Wellber began his musical journey at the age of five, playing the accordion and piano. By the age of nine, he had also taken up composing. He studied conducting and composition at the Jerusalem Music Academy.
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An assistant to Daniel Barenboim for two years, Wellber is also now principal guest conductor at the Semperoper Dresden and music director at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. For the past decade he has also been at the head of the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra, which works with immigrants in Israel. In 2017, Wellber co-authored a book Fear, Risk and Love – Moments with Mozart.
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Wellber made his debut in the UK conducting at Glyndebourne in 2014, and was promptly booked by the London Philharmonic Orchestra for a gig. And after only one programme with the BBC Philharmonic in March 2018, he was picked to take the top job with the Manchester-based orchestra.
‘We had a really great time working on Haydn and Shostakovich,’ Wellber told BBC Music Magazine last December, ‘I got to know them well enough to know that I want to be with them for the next few years.’
Wellber’s first official outing with the ensemble as chief conductor is at the 2019 BBC Proms.
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For their Prom, the BBC Philharmonic and Wellber are performing a programme of Mozart, Schumann, Schoenberg, as well as Paul Ben-Haim’s First Symphony.
‘I have a lot to introduce that I think will be interesting. In Israel, we have a whole generation of immigrant composers, including Paul Ben-Haim and Noam Sheriff,’ Wellber told us. ‘Ben-Haim’s First Symphony, for instance, is basically like Mahler in terms of instrumentation and structure, but all the musical themes are Bedouin ones. When listeners hear it, they will be amazed.’
Omer Meir Wellber and the BBC Philharmonic perform at Prom 7 on 23 July 2019