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, with whom he led concerts for four seasons as Music Director. Walker was a 2018 Conducting Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and 2017 Conducting Fellow and recipient of the prestigious Bruno Walter Memorial Conducting Scholarship at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. His performances have been broadcast live on National Public Radio(USA) and he has been the subject of interviews on the Public Broadcasting Station(USA) and Mississippi Public Radio.
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 applications coming from across the globe.
Walker has performed with orchestras in both Europe and the United States including the Berliner Sinfonietta, Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic, London Classical Soloists, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Moonlight Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Reino de Aragon, and the Bacau Philharmonic Orchestra. The 2019-2020 season will include his Russian debut with the Astrakhan State Opera and Ballet Theater where he will conduct the regional premiere of Prokofiev’s Third Symphony, Op. 44.
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 and the Aspen Music Festival 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, Niels Muus and Dwight Oltman.
Originally a cellist, Walker won his first professional engagements at the age of 16 with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. He went on to perform internationally as soloist with orchestras and in many solo recitals. His experience performing in professional orchestras with conductors such as Ricardo Muti and Vladimir Jurowski greatly influenced his approached to conducting.
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 Austria based Dance Ensemble Art Alive for many performances including at the Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao, Spain) and the Sarajevo Ballet Festival, both events sponsored by the Austrian Embassy.
William Walker has worked as an opera conductor in both the United States and Europe. He was 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 operas 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 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.