Loras John Schissel
Blossom Festival Band
Loras John Schissel has served as conductor of the Blossom Festival Band since 1998. He also regularly conducts the Blossom Festival Orchestra. In 2009, he led The Cleveland Orchestra’s free concert on Public Square, and led the special 9/11 tenth anniversary concert in September 2011.
Mr. Schissel has traveled throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia conducting orchestras, bands, and choral ensembles in a broad range of musical styles and varied programs. A native of New Hampton, Iowa, Loras John Schissel studied brass instruments and conducting with Carlton Stewart, Frederick Fennell, and John Paynter. In the years following his studies at the University of Northern Iowa, Mr. Schissel has distinguished himself as a prominent conductor, orchestrator, and musicologist. He is founder and music director of the Arlington-based Virginia Grand Military Band, an ensemble comprised of current and former members of the four U.S. service bands.
Deeply committed to young musicians, he has appeared as conductor of All-State music festivals and of festival bands and orchestras in more than thirty states. In Northeast Ohio, he has conducted the Berea All-County Orchestra Festival and regularly visits Baldwin Wallace University as conductor of the Summer Band Camp there. He frequently appears with the Patriot Band of Avon Lake, Strongsville Community Band, Lakewood Hometown Band, and the Packard Band of Warren, Ohio.
As a composer and orchestrator, Mr. Schissel has created an extensive catalogue of over 500 works for orchestra, symphonic wind band, and jazz ensemble, published exclusively by Ludwig/Masters Music. His musical score for Bill Moyers: America’s First River, The Hudson, which first appeared on PBS in April 2002, received extensive coverage and critical acclaim. He also created musical scores for two films for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home in Hyde Park, New York. As a recording artist, Mr. Schissel has amassed a large discography with a wide variety of ensembles and various musical genres.
Loras John Schissel is a senior musicologist at the Library of Congress and a leading authority on the music of Percy Aldridge Grainger, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky. Schissel and John Philip Sousa IV (great-grandson of the composer) have recently co-authored a book entitled John Philip Sousa’s America: A Patriot's Life in Images and Words, a photo-biography of the March King. 20th Century Fox is reissuing the Clifton Webb classic The Stars and Stripes Forever in conjunction with the Sousa-Schissel book.
Loras John Schissel made his Cleveland Orchestra debut in May 2007, conducting three performances of an Education Concert titled “Spirit of America.” He also made his debut with the Phoenix Symphony that month, conducting a “Gershwin Celebration” program; his return concerts there in May 2008 were sold out. He made his third annual appearance in Phoenix in May 2010 conducting an all-American Memorial Day program. In July 2008, Mr. Schissel made his debut with “Pershing’s Own,” the United States Army Band, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The 2012-13 season of the Virginia Military Band celebrates his 20th anniversary as founder and music director.