Dr. Will Kesling: Spirit of Gainesville nominee

Published: Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 11:13 a.m.

Dr. Will Kesling has been an integral part of the classical music scene in Gainesville for more than 10 years and with his music he’s contributed greatly to the cultural life of our citizenry.


Category: Arts

About Dr. Will Kesling

Occupation: Professor, College of Fine Arts, UF

Years in Gainesville: 12

Currently in his 12th year as Director of Choral Activities for the University of Florida, Dr. Kesling elevates each performance to a world-class level with his clear professionalism and inspired conducting. His ability to weave together text and music, orchestra and chorus, has garnered him international recognition and respect.

As Music Director of the Gainesville Civic Chorus & Philharmonic Orchestra for the last 10 years, Dr. Kesling has brought many hours of enjoyment to the music lovers of Gainesville and surrounding communities. The GCC Master Chorale presents four major musical programs each year and one of the most popular of these is the free public performances of a “Messiah Sing-Along,” where the audience has the opportunity to sing the choruses from this famous oratorio along with the chorus. For several years the combined choirs of the GCC Master Chorale and UF Concert Choir have presented, free to the public, the “Sounds of the Season” concert to turn-away crowds at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. By bringing these two choirs together in several performances, Dr. Kesling has been able to present to Gainesville audiences some of the great choral master works that would be beyond the capabilities of a smaller choir.

Dr. Kesling’s talents are recognized far beyond Gainesville and Florida. He has conducted 41 different orchestras in 23 countries on five continents, hundreds of choral ensembles, including a number of professional choirs and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Most recently, in May 2013 he served as the conducting coach at a conducting workshop at the Gustav Mahler Conservatory of Music in Vienna, Austria and in early June conducted a combined choir of singers from Gainesville, Colorado other countries in Europe in three performances of the Brahms’ German Requiem in Northern Italian cities. A review in the paper after the Verona concert noted that “The star of the evening, as well as Brahms of course, was absolutely the conductor Will Kesling: you rarely have the opportunity to perceive in a maestro a clear vision of the work which is evident by the gestures, at the same time expressive with great precision.” He is truly a world ambassador for Gainesville and Florida.

Yet, with all this global accomplishment, Dr. Kesling’s attention is never far from his hometown of Gainesville. He devotes many hours of volunteer service to his community, as music chairman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; music director for Westminster Presbyterian Church; music merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts of America; and leads a small choir that performs at nursing homes and other community service concerts. No matter how large or small or how talented the group he is working with, he has the ability to take a group of individual singers and make them into a unified choir.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Here in Gainesville, we are fortunate to have Dr. Kesling, a veteran artist who has mastered this language and used his tremendous talent to communicate beautiful music throughout our community and beyond.

In spite of all his accomplishments, Dr. Kesling has managed to remain a very humble man who certainly loves his community. In all that he does, both professionally and personally, he is a true representation of the “Spirit of Gainesville.” The long hours of planning, rehearsing and attention to detail in all of his performances has made Gainesville a culturally rich community. He has certainly established a legacy of musical excellence for many to follow.

For this reason, I wholeheartedly nominate Dr. Will Kesling for the “Spirit of Gainesville Award in the field of the Arts.

Nominated by Janet Cornelius

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