Matthew Wardell


  • Interim Director of Orchestral Studies
  • Visiting Lecturer in Music
Matthew Wardell

Matthew Wardell is a conductor and teacher known for his quick wit, endearing presence in both pops and classical settings, and his incredible ability to bring joy and presence to any audience.

His professional career as Music Director and Conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra began in 2009. When Matthew was appointed Music Director of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra the Ocala Star Banner declared that, “Wardell brings an impressive resume of musical and conducting training ... Maybe more important than his musical credentials is Wardell’s youthful enthusiasm and unabashed zest ... Wardell is not only a daring and dynamic choice as the Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s new conductor, but a smart one.”

On the stage, he has publicly performed nearly 450 works in over 250 live performances including core orchestral repertoire from all periods, concerti for voice and nearly every instrument, extensive pops offerings, film and multi-media works, and the purposeful inclusion of underrepresented composers and pieces. From the pit, Maestro Wardell has led 16 staged productions of large-scale opera, musical theatre, and ballet works including La Boheme, Tosca, Bartok's Miraculous Mandarin, Cosi fan tutte, Sunday in the Park with George, Susannah, Die Fledermaus, Carmina Burana, A Little Night Music, and Sweeney Todd. Matthew once conducted 2 performances of Puccini’s Tosca with only one day’s notice. The performances were hailed as “first-rate” and “inspiring.” His ability to step in at the last moment was described as a “magnificent feat … when the stakes were high, Mr. Wardell came through brilliantly and proved his mettle.”

In addition to his success on the podium and in the orchestra pit, Matthew has been responsible for more than $7 million in private fundraising, over $3 million in grant acquisitions, and the creation and successive expansion of the Reilly Arts Center, a 30,000 square foot Ocala, FL performing arts facility he currently manages as CEO and Artistic Director. The Reilly houses a 700-seat mainstage theatre, the NOMA black box theatre, and the Ocala Symphony Community Music Conservatory.

Matthew is a champion of all kinds of orchestral music. He enjoys programming and conducting core repertoire arm and arm with pops and new music believing that good music is just that – good music. He is a member of the College Orchestra Directors Association and the American Symphony Orchestra League. In addition to his musical pursuits, Wardell is passionate about being involved in the communities he makes music in. In 2015, he was elected to Ocala's City Council - a position he proudly held for 6 years. He enjoys traveling, the good company of friends, and attending Jacksonville Jaguars’ games. Matthew and his wife, Pamela Calero, have one dog, Buckley, who is probably up to no good at this very moment.

Areas of Expertise

Orchestral Music, Conducting, Film Music, and Arts Entrepreneurship


  • D.M.A, M.M., University of Florida
  • B.M., University of North Florida