Loras John Schissel has served as conductor of the Blossom Festival Band since 1998. He also regularly conducts the Blossom Festival Orchestra and led The Cleveland Orchestra’s free annual community concert on Public Square in 2009, 2011 (a special 9/11 tenth anniversary concert), and 2014.
Mr. Schissel has travelled 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, orchestraor, and musicologist. He has served for over two decades as founding music director of the Arlington-based Virginia Grand Military Band, an ensemble comprised of current and former members of the four major U.S. service bands. In 2005, Mr. Schissel was elected to membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association.
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) recently co-authored a book titled The Stars and Stripes Forever in conjunction with the Sousa-Schissel book. Mr. Schissel is currently writing a study of the famed impresario Sergei Diaghilev.
Deeply committed to young musicians, Loras John Schissel has appeared as conductor of All-State music festivals and of festival bands and orchestras in more than thirty states. 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. 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.