Welcome to the website of American Conductor William Garfield Walker.
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Praised for his "passionate and probing performances" as well as for having "a perceptive ear and eye for detail", William Garfield Walker is an emerging young American conductor quickly establishing himself on the international stage.
Previously he served as Principal Conductor of the Moonlight Symphony Orchestra, the Royal College of Music Oratorio Society and at the age of 20, founded the Virtuoso Philharmonic of Chicago. Walker was a 2018 Conducting Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and 2017 and recipient of the Bruno Walter Memorial Conducting Scholarship at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. His performances have been broadcast live on National Public Radio(USA).
With an interest in bettering the conducting profession, while still pursuing his own graduate studies, Walker co-founded the Smoky Mountain International Conducting Institute and Competition which has since grown into one of the premiere international conductor training programs in the United States; with many conductors coming from across the globe.
Walker has performed with orchestras in both Europe and the United States. Some of the orchestras that he has worked with include the Berlin Sinfonietta, Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic Ostrava, London Classical Soloists, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Moonlight Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Reino de Aragon, Taurida State Symphony of the Leningrad Region and the Bacau Philharmonic Orchestra.
EDUCATION & BACKGROUND
Walker is an alumni of several elite institutions including the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Royal College of Music, London where he studied cello and conducting, the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna where he studied conducting.
While studying in Vienna, Walker was immersed in the Austro-Germanic traditions of style and sound. In masterclasses with conductors such as Michail Jurowski, Vassily Sinaisky and Vladimir Fedoeseyev, he was steeped in the Russian traditions of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Mussorgsky. Walker has also studied with other leading maestros including Robert Spano, Leonard Slatkin, Jorma Panula, Michael Rosewell, Andreas Stoehr and Dwight Oltman.
Originally a cellist, Walker won his first professional engagements at the age of 16 with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. He studied with Richard Hirschl (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and participated in masterclasses with among others Yo Yo Ma, Astrid Schween(Juilliard Quartet) and Desmond Hoebig. Also a composer, Walker has written music for solo instruments, large symphony orchestra and dance. It has had performances in cultural centers such as Chicago, London, Vienna and the Palau de la Música Catalana (Barcelona). Walker has also written music for collaborations with the Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Art Alive for many performances including performances at the Guggenheim (Bilbao, Spain) and the Sarajevo Ballet Festival.
William Walker has worked as an opera conductor in both the United States and Europe. He has been a cover conductor with the English Touring Opera for an Oliver Award-winning production of Don Giovanni; the Chicago Opera Theater with Frederica von Stade in Ricky Ian Gordon’s "A Coffin in Egypt", and assisted high profile opera performances such as Die Fledermaus (J. Strauss) and Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck) at the Royal College of Music, London where he also was the solo cellist of the opera orchestra. He has also been a rehearsal conductor at the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna with repertoire including Ariadne, Elektra (R. Strauss), The Grand Macabre (Ligeti) and the Cunning Little Vixen (Janacek).
Walker has been generously supported by the John N. Palmer Foundation, Talent Unlimited UK, and The National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) which is comprised of The Sphinx Organization, the lead program administrator and fiscal agent for the Alliance; the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; and the League of American Orchestras, representing 700 orchestras.