Alexander Mickelthwate

Music Director 2018 – present

As he prepares for his sixth season leading the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Maestro Alexander Mickelthwate has fully become part of the community.

“It’s amazing, and also quite humbling,” Mickelthwate said. “My morning routine usually consists of studying at Harvey Bakery in Midtown. Quite often customers will approach me and say they saw me on television or on the side of a bus. To me, that signifies what we are doing at the OKCPHIL is resonating with the community, and making everyone feel welcome.”

The OKCPHIL has been a source of joy and inspiration for 35 years, enriching Oklahoma and its communities through orchestral music. When Mickelthwate came on board, he brought with him an eagerness to build on the successes of the past and pave the way for the future.

“Oklahoma City should be known as a breeding ground for fun and creativity,” he said. “That’s my thing. In our first season, we were always surprised how the audiences were really open to the contemporary. It’s crazy how embracing the audience is for adventurous, fun new things. This season, we are tempering the contemporary with traditional. I think audiences will be pleased with what they hear.”

Born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany, Mickelthwate grew up in a home filled with classical music. He received his degree from the Peabody Institute of Music, and has worked with orchestras in Atlanta, Winnipeg and Los Angeles.

He is Music Director Emeritus of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in Canada, and in 2022, accepted the position of Music Director for the prestigious Bear Valley Music Festival in Bear Valley, California. In early 2023, Mickelthwate traveled to Hanoi where he was Guest Conductor at the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra.

Since he’s been in Oklahoma, Mickelthwate has received numerous awards and honors, including being twice-named “The Face of Music” by 405 Magazine. The OKC Friday newspaper named him one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful,” and the Ladies Music Club of Oklahoma City lauded him “Musician of the Year.”

Accolades aside, one of Mickelthwate’s goals is to tell Oklahoma stories through music.

“When I first came to Oklahoma City, I read Sam Anderson’s book, ‘Boom Town,’ and from there I began studying Oklahoma’s colorful history,” he said. “We have so many great stories, and seeing them come to life through music is awe-inspiring. Two seasons ago, I programmed a Native American work by Jared Tate. We commissioned a piece by Jonathan Leshnoff commemorating the Oklahoma City Bombing. And last year we told the story of local civil rights icon Clara Luper through music composed by Hannibal Lokumbe. I want to continue bringing more of these stories to our audiences.”

He is active in the community, and in high demand for speaking engagements from Rotary to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. When he’s not studying at Harvey Bakery, Mickelthwate is Artist in Residence at the University of Central Oklahoma where he enjoys working with the next generation of musicians, and conducting UCO’s symphony orchestra.

“My personal philosophy is that music has a way of reaching us in a way nothing else does,” Mickelthwate said. “It goes deep inside, creating and facilitating beauty in a harsh world. We want the Oklahoma City Philharmonic to be meaningful, to be fun and a place where we are all one. I have often said we feel the love, Oklahoma City. And we are giving it right back.”