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Music Director Emeritus.
Paul Vermel—conductor, educator, mentor and orchestra builder—is the 2009 recipient of the Max Rudolf Award from the Conductors Guild. This award is given biennially in recognition of outstanding achievement as a conductor and pedagogue, and significant service to the profession in the realms of scholarship and ensemble building. He is only the 7th recipient of this important honor.
Paul Vermel first studied conducting, organ, harmony and theory in his native Paris. There he studied organ with André Fleury, and conducting with André Cluytens. He came to the U.S. to study at the Juilliard School and the Tanglewood Music Center as a student of Jean Morel. After finishing his studies he was appointed to the Juilliard faculty. In New York he became music director and conductor of the Hudson Valley Symphony, the Doctors' Orchestral Society and the Brooklyn Community Orchestra. For eight years he was music director of the summer opera and musical theater program at Green Mansions in the Berkshires.
Vermel then moved to California to become music director and conductor of the Fresno Philharmonic. He also taught at California State University and conducted opera extensively. Moving back to the east coast, he was appointed director of the Music in Maine Project and conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. From 1974-1994 he was Professor of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and conductor of the University Symphony and the Champaign-Urbana Symphony. Always an active guest conductor, Maestro Vermel has conducted symphony orchestras of Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Baltimore the National Symphony of Washington, D.C., the Rhode Island Philharmonic, L'Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec, and numerous regional and community orchestras. He headed the orchestral program at the Aspen Music Festival for 14 years, and has taught at the Conductors Institute at the University of South Carolina for 15 years.
Maestro Vermel is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Koussevitsky Memorial Award for the outstanding conductor at Tanglewood, the American Symphony Orchestra League Recognition Award, a Ford Foundation grant for advanced study, the Bell Telephone Award for outstanding achievement in and contribution to the arts (in conjunction with the national Orchestras- On-Tour program) and an ASCAP Award for adventuresome programming of contemporary music. In 2006 he was named Conductor of the Year by the Illinois Council of Orchestras (small orchestras).
Stepping down as Music Director after the 2012-2013 season, Maestro Vermel is continuing his relationship with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra as Music Director Emeritus. He will continue to work with the next generation of conductors through The Paul Vermel Conductor Apprenticeship Program. The Northwest Symphony Orchestra will also continue the Paul Vermel Young Artist Award program, selecting young artists from the Chicagoland area to perform with the orchestra.
Paul Vermel lives in the Chicago area with his wife, Carolyn Paulin, a producer and program host at 98.7 WFMT Radio and the WFMT Radio Network.