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                                                    The Southern Tier Symphony's Founding Music  Director/Conductor is John Whitney                            



John Whitney -

Founding Music Director / Conductor

  A uniquely versatile “musician’s musician,” John Whitney has distinguished himself in both classical and jazz arenas through his conducting, performance, composition, arranging, and teaching. The founding director of the Southern Tier Symphony, a fast-growing, regional orchestra based in Olean, New York, Whitney has led orchestras on three continents, including those in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Venezuela. In the U.S., he has served as guest conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic and Ohio Valley Symphony, Erie Philharmonic and Glens Falls Symphony in New York, and the New World, Westmoreland, Imperial and Brevard Symphonies in Florida. Other invited orchestral appearances include those with the Illinois Symphony, Florida Symphony, and symphonies of South Bend, Indiana; Savannah, Georgia; Springfield, Missouri, Dayton, Ohio and Springfield, Massachusetts. In addition, Whitney has conducted the Orlando Opera and served as music director for Ballet Orlando. Whitney has performed with and/or conducted for a host of platinum artists, including Luciano Pavarotti, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Dave Samuels, Buddy DeFranco, Henry Mancini, Cab Calloway, Liberace, Doc Severinson, Phil Woods and The Irish Tenors. As a violinist, he has performed at Walt Disney World and with symphonies of Syracuse, Utica, Elmira and Brevard. 

    Internationally respected for his skills as a pedagogue, Whitney has taught conducting in Europe, presented workshops as a faculty member for American Symphony Orchestra League, and served as mentor to promising young American conductors. He has shared coaching with conductors that include Abravanel, Boulez, Farberman, Gould, Maazel, Mehta, Slatkin and Zinman. During his twenty-year career at University of Central Florida (UCF), Whitney served as director of both orchestral studies and the UCF Jazz Lab band, which he led in invited performances at Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland. Recipient of acclaim for both his musicianship and his teaching, Whitney was selected sole American winner of the International Competition for Conductors in Czechoslovakia. UCF recognized Whitney for his excellence in teaching and leadership and named him premier faculty member in research and creative activities, a university-wide award. In addition, he has been invited to serve each summer since 2003 on faculty of the String Institute presented by the New York American String Teachers Association. In the past four years, Whitney’s orchestral arrangements have been performed at the Carnegie Hall “Link-UP!” youth concerts Alfred Publications, formerly Warner Brothers, and Theodore Presser Company have published more than forty of Whitney’s compositions and arrangements, and his “The Junk Food Blues” for string quartet was recorded by the Kronos Quartet. Whitney’s own discography includes jazz recordings by The John Whitney Trio. 

    A native of Glens Falls, NY, Whitney earned music degrees from Ithaca College and New England Conservatory. In addition to his service at UCF, Whitney taught 22 years in New York public schools, including those in Long Beach, Olean, Ithaca and Camillus (West Genesee Central Schools), and served as director of strings for Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. In 2007, he taught conducting and orchestra at SUNY Fredonia as director of orchestras. 


John Whitney 

John Cary Whitney passed away Monday, November 17, 2014.

Donations for the Southern Tier Symphony in memory of John can be made by using our support page for individual subscriptions. Click HERE for STS page or HERE.

ALLEGANY - John Cary Whitney, of 4056 Birch Run Road, passed away Monday (Nov. 17, 2014) at The Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Olean.

Born on Dec. 2, 1942, in Glens Falls, he was the son of Maurice Cary and Betty Saunders Whitney. On Aug. 20, 1983, in Oviedo, Fla., he married Kim A. Mickelson, who survives.

Mr. Whitney was a graduate of Ithaca College, where he majored in music education. He later received a master's degree from the New England Conservatory in Boston, Mass.

He first taught music at the West Genesee School District and then for the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where he was a professor of music and directed the Jazz Lab Band and the university's Symphony Orchestra.

He moved to the Olean area to teach strings at the Olean City School District and direct its orchestra. Following that, he taught at the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts until his retirement.

Music was a lifelong passion, so after moving back to New York state, he founded the Southern Tier Symphony. He directed the orchestra until the onset of his illness.

For his entire career, he was involved in musical associations, including the American Symphony Orchestra League; Phi Mu Alpha Music Fraternity, where he was named "Signature Sintonian" of the fraternity and acted as a province governor; the Music Educators National Conference; the American String Teachers Association and the Buffalo Musicians Association Union Local 92.
He was a deacon at the First Presbyterian Church in Olean and had been a member in recent years of the Olean Rotary Club, for which he served as song master.

John is survived by his wife, Kim; one daughter, Sarah (Thomas) McCormack of Pelham Manor; one son, Ryan Whitney of Allegany; two granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Grace McCormack; and one sister, Marilyn "Dale" Kimura of King's Point, Fla.

Friends are invited to attend a celebration of life service to be held at 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 23, 2014) at the First Presbyterian Church, Olean. The Rev. Bruce Levine, pastor, will officiate. A reception will immediately follow in the church fellowship room. Burial will take place in Mansion Memorial Park in Ellenton, Fla.

Memorials may be made to the Olean Rotary Club, P.O. Box 127, Olean, NY 14760; or to the Southern Tier Symphony, P.O. Box 501, Olean, NY 14760.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Casey, Halwig & Hartle Funeral Home, Olean.