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William Walker - Conductor


American conductor, cellist and composer William Garfield Walker has performed in many places throughout the Americas and Europe notably Berlin, Chicago, London, Madrid, Vienna, Valencia, Romania, the Czech Republic, Costa Rica, and Italy.

Recently named as a recipient of the Bruno Walter Memorial Conducting Scholarship to attend the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music as a Conducting Fellow, at the age of 20, William, along with several of the finest Chicago-based musicians of the younger generation, founded the Virtuoso Philharmonic of Chicago, where he served as both General Music Director and Executive Director. Besides conducting the Virtuoso Philharmonic of Chicago, in 2015 Walker became the first Principal Conductor of the Royal College of Music Oratorio Society (London, UK) and led the ensemble in its debut performance of Handel’s Messiah (HWV 56). Walker is also the Principal Conductor of the newly formed World Unity Orchestra which will give its debut performance in 2017.

Other orchestras that Walker has worked with include the Berliner Sinfonietta (Berlin, Germany), Janacek Philharmonic (Ostrava, Czech Republic), the London Classical Soloists (London, UK), the Orquesta Reino de Aragon (Italy), the “Mihail Jora” Philharmonic Orchestra (Bacau, Romania) and orchestras at the Interlochen Arts Academy (Interlochen, MI, USA), Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music (Cleveland, OH USA); Chicago College of Performing Arts (Chicago, USA), the Sewanee Music Festival Chamber Orchestra (Sewanee, TN, USA); and the Baldwin Wallace Wind Ensemble (Cleveland, OH, USA). Additionally, in March, 2017 Walker conducted and recorded music at the Hapsburg Palace in the historic Hofburgkapelle for a short film which will be released in Spring 2017.

Walker has also worked extensively as an assistant and as cover conductor with several ensembles, including the Oliver Award winning English Touring Opera, Britain’s leading professional opera touring company; the Chicago Opera Theater with famed mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade and Emanuelle Andrizzi, the Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival Orchestra, in a critically acclaimed performance of the St. Matthew Passion, and assisting high profile concerts and operas at the Royal College of Music. Walker also assisted the Chicago College of Performing Arts Symphony Orchestra in a recording session of Stacy Garrop’s Mythology Symphony recorded on the Cedille Records recording label.

Walker’s principal conducting studies have been with Andreas Stoehr, Michael Rosewell, Dwight Oltman, and Emanuele Andrizzi. He has also been mentored in conducting by Stephen Squires and Eli Mathews of the Cleveland Orchestra and has been an active participant in masterclasses led by Michail Jurowski, Jorma Panula, Vladimir Fedoseyev (June 2017), Leonard Slatkin (Summer 2017), Cristian Măcelaru (Summer 2017), Issac Karabtchevsky, Niels Erik Muus, Ovidiu Balan, and Robert Gutter.

Also an accomplished cellist, Walker has won several awards, scholarships, and competitions and worked with some of the most notable musicians of our day including Ricardo Muti, Vladimir Jurowski, and Yo Yo Ma. Recently he was invited to perform with Hakkan Hardenberger and the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra as a part of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s “The Trumpet Shall Sound” series and served as Principal Cello of the Royal College of Music Opera Orchestra. At age 16, Walker had his first professional engagement when he performed with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.

Walker’s principal cello studies have been with Richard Hirschl, Regina Mushabac and Crispin Campbell. Additionally, he has participated in masterclasses conducted by Yo Yo Ma, Desmond Hoebig, Astrid Schween, David Ying, Bonnie Hampton, Patrick Jee, Tanya Carey, and David Taylor.

Having a strong passion for new music and music by living composers, Walker has participated in many world premieres and performances of music by living composers as both a conductor and cellist. These performances include performing music by and for the Minimalist pioneer, Steve Reich and Pulitzer Prize winning composer Steven Stucky. A composer himself, Walker has had music performed in venues including the Palau de la Música de València (Spain), Kinhaven Music School, Interlochen Arts Academy, and the Chicago College of Performing Arts. 2017 has seen the world premier of his piece "Labyrinth” at the Palau de la Música de València, it will also be performed in Madrid and will receive its U.K. premier in London

Walker’s music studies have taken place at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Chicago College of Performing Arts, Royal College of Music in London and the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna.

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updated May 2017