Dr. Tom Zelle currently serves as the music director and conductor of the North Park University Orchestra and is active as a choral conductor, clinician, church musician, and educator. Under his direction, the orchestra studies and performs a wide range of orchestral literature from the Baroque era to the present, and periodically collaborates with vocalists and other School of Music ensembles.
A native of Hamburg, Germany, Dr. Zelle received his initial musical training at the conservatory of Lübeck. From that institution, he holds the highest German degree in church music/organ performance. His extensive education in music and anthropology has taken him to schools across Germany and the United States. Mr. Zelle credits his artistic influences to his studies with Sergiu Celibidache, which led him to specialize his musical training in non-dual and phenomenological applications to music practice and orchestral conducting. Zelle says, “I am an active researcher, covering topics that include music education, aesthetics, phenomenology and music, and the pedagogy of conducting.”
Mr. Zelle has given master classes for orchestra conductors in Venezuela as part of the El Sistema youth orchestra program and now works closely with an El Sistema-inspired youth orchestra program in Chicago. He, along with students from the School of Music, partners with the People’s Music School to provide orchestra training to elementary students at Albany Park schools through the YOURS Project.
Mr. Zelle is the music director at Sauganash Community Church in Chicago and maintains private studio where he coaches professional musicians. He also serves as the principal guest conductor of the Sangrock Music Festival and as artistic director of the East West Music Festival in South Korea. He has also served as artistic and music director for the Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the Lyric Opera Theatre at Tempe, and the Scottsdale Community College Symphony Orchestra.