Meet the Susanville Symphony Maestro Benjamin J. Wade

 "Little did he know where this journey and his passion for music would take him"
Maestro Benjamin J. Wade has been at the helm as conductor and artistic director of the Susanville Symphony since it's inception in 2003. Wade spent his youth honing is trumpet skills while living in Moscow Russia, Bangalore India, Budapest Hungary and Knoxville Tennessee. Winning every first chair award in High School (1986-87-88-89) first chair All-State, All-Region and Southeastern Honors Orchestra, Maestro Wade was awarded the prestigious International Trumpet Guild Award for the best trumpet player under the age of 18 at 17 years of age.
Wade spent 22 years as a college soccer coach and retired as one of the top 10 most winning soccer coaches in JC, NAIA and NCAA. He retired in 2016 to focus his efforts on the Susanville Symphony, music in Lassen County, and his family. In fact it was his soccer career that first took him to Susanville in 2001 and as he puts it "I came to Susanville to go up the coaching career ladder and figured it would be a stepping stone for a few years, but along the way the Symphony was born, and my true passion emerged." 
An adventurer at heart, Benjamin Wade, going by the name of "Coach" appeared on CBS prime time show Survivor three separate seasons: Survivor Tocantins, Survivor Hero vs Villains and Survivor Redemption Island.  He has also appeared in other television shows and movies, but moved back to Susanville from Hollywood because "it was the one true place I considered home." An avid kayaker Maestro Wade has kayaked all over the world and several books are published about his travels: No Turning Back and A Voyage Beyond Reason.
Wade has his Masters Degree in Music Conducting from the University of Nevada and is an avid composer. Professional orchestras around the United States have performed many of his pieces. Professionally he has played trumpet with The New York Met, the Indianapolis Symphony and the Knoxville Symphony. Maestro Wade has also recently become the music teacher at Lassen High School where he teaches commercial music, choir, drum-line and symphonic band.
Little did he realize where this journey and his passion for music would take him. In 2003, he founded a symphony...and Susanville would officially become the smallest town in America with its own symphony orchestra.
“Several musicians and I talked about forming a symphony; I never dreamed that it would take over my life and become a channel for the intensity and passion I have within my heart. For me life is about just that...intensity and passion. This comes out in the manner which I conduct and the compositions I write.”
Wade has composed dozens of original works and over 20 have been debuted by the Susanville Symphony. As he shifts his focus from soccer to music, the Maestro has lofty aspirations. Wade wants to develop the orchestra, and to give greater attention to writing music.
“My desire is to travel and research the music of 20 different cultures and write 20 symphonies over the next 20 years. I want to write for this orchestra and this community. I want to continue, in some small way, to change the face of Susanville and Lassen County, enriching the musical culture for the residents and the musicians.”
In his youth, Benjamin Wade became a world-class trumpet player, winning the prestigious International Trumpet Guild’s CG Conn scholarship for young proteges under the age of 18. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and a minor in Music. Then received his Master of Music degree in Conducting in 2005 at the University of Nevada, Reno. Wade has studied under Dr. Mack McGranahan, Maestro Kirk Trevor, Maestro Zubin Mehta, Dr. W.J. Jillian and Dr. Cathy Leach. He also has performed with the Knoxville Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the New York Metropolitan Opera. He is a member of the International Conductors Guild and has guest conducted the South Carolina Pops, the Springfield Symphony and the Southwest Baptist University Orchestras.