As a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University, Cellist Wesley Skinner is completing a DMA as the Teaching Assistant of Tom Landschoot. Additionally, Wesley holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Melissa Kraut. With an emphasis in Cello Pedagogy during his Cello Performance Master’s degree, Wesley recently held faculty positions in the Western Reserve Suzuki School, the Hudson School of Music, and the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) Preparatory Program. Now in Arizona, he maintains a private studio of 50+ students in addition to working with Harmony Project (Phoenix’s El Sistema Program) and he teaches as a professional clinician at Phoenix area middle and high schools as well as coaching youth orchestra cello sections. As a teacher, he combines the philosophy of his Complete Suzuki Teacher Training, the rigors of his conservatory-level teaching style, and his experience outside of the classical genre into a comprehensive approach to all levels and styles.
Wesley’s solo competition top prize wins include the 2014 Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition, 2015 Paducah Symphony Young Artist Competition (KY), 2015 Tennessee Cello Workshop, 2015 Lewisville Lake Symphony International String Competition (TX), and the 2016 ASU Concerto Competition. In addition to the concerto performances from the previously mentioned competitions, Wesley has appeared as a concert soloist at the Hot Springs Music Festival (AR), Cleveland area ensembles, and Phoenix area ensembles. As a composer, Wesley won the 2017-2018 ariZoni Theater Award of Excellence in Original Music Composition for his score of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with TheaterWorks dramatic production and was invited back to compose an original score for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in October 2018. In the Spring of 2018, the Hillel Jewish Student Center awarded Wesley with the Joan Frazier Memorial Award for his contribution to Judaism in the Arts with his performances of Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch’s complete works and arrangements for Cello and Piano.
In addition to his exploration of contemporary American and Jewish-roots composers, Wesley pursues the equal programming of female composers and Latin American composers. For the passed six Summers, he has served as a technique presenter for the Lev Aronson Cello Festival in Dallas, TX. In 2019, he performed as a visiting artist for the University of Hainan (China) Chamber Music Performance Festival specifically to develop the national “One Belt and One Road” strategy and construction of the Hainan Free Trade Area (Port) in order to promote friendly exchange of arts and culture. Known for his innovative programming such as Bach & Beer pairings with Tempe’s Huss Brewing Co., Wesley has pioneered cross-disciplinary collaborations with ballroom and break dancers. In addition, Wesley has also toured Canada and the US with groups such as punk rock band Say Anything all the way to premiering new classical works with Neo Camerata Ensemble across 25 states and Canada. In his continued work with Dallas-based composers Mark Landson and Thiago Nascimento at Open Classical, Wesley has commissioned, premiered, and will soon record their newest works: "Moments in Memory" and "Ballade" for Cello and Piano. As a chamber musician, Wesley has collaborated with a number renowned musicians, including principals and section members of the Cleveland Orchestra, the LA Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Nashville Symphony, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic.
Currently, he serves as cellist and founding member of the Laniakea String Quartet which recently won first prize in The Sixth (2019) Hong Kong International Chamber Music Competition. In addition, they served as performing artists for Red Rocks Winter Chamber Music Festival in Arizona. In January of 2019, the Laniakea String Quartet recorded for Icelandic composer Gulli Björnsson’s premier album of chamber music which was released at Phoenix’s acclaimed composer event Oh My Ears. In February of 2019, the quartet collaborated on a number of chamber music works on ASU Faculty Recitals with Guitarist Jiyeon “JiJi” Kim and Bassoonist Albie Micklich.