William McGlaughlin’s introduction to music came late; he was fourteen before he took his first piano lessons. “Happily, I understood immediately what a wonderful thing I’d stumbled into. I can remember thinking as I walked away from my second piano lesson — “Well, that’s it. I’ll be a musician. Of course, I had no idea what that decision meant exactly.”
Over the years, McGlaughlin was to discover that “being a musician” could embrace a great many paths. He has served as an educator, as a performer — a trombonist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony, and as a conductor — seven years as Associate Conductor with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, followed by periods as music director of orchestras in Eugene, Tucson and San Francisco, and most recently, a twelve year engagement as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony. He has also been active as a guest conductor, leading the Baltimore Symphony, Denver Symphony, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, New Orleans Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Opera Theatre St. Louis, American Music Theater Festival and San Antonio Festival.
“Well, that’s it. I’ll be a musician. Of course, I had no idea what that decision meant exactly.”
McGlaughlin has also been active in broadcasting, serving as host of the popular public radio program St. Paul Sunday since its inception in 1980. In 1996 the program received the highest honor in broadcasting, the George Foster Peabody Award. McGlaughlin has worked with PBS, the BBC and is now in his twelfth season as co-host of the chamber music program Center Stage From Wolf Trap. In November 2002, the NEA announced a special grant to the WFMT Radio Network to fund the development of a new daily program: Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin, which began syndication on October 6, 2003. Exploring Music is now in its ninth season, playing in two hundred markets across the country as well as in Australia and New Zealand.
It was not until 1997 that McGlaughlin made a public debut as a composer. His Three Dreams and a Question: Choral Songs on E. E. Cummings — a work dedicated to the memory of the young composer and pianist Kevin Oldham — was enthusiastically received by audience, performers and press at its premiere with the Kansas City Symphony and was quickly followed by five more premieres within a ten month span. Aaron’s Horizons, a work dedicated to the spirit of Aaron Copland, with whom McGlaughin worked in the 1970s, has been heard nationwide in a broadcast with members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
In the summer of 1998 McGlaughlin signed a contract with Subito Music, which now publishes all of his work. His recent works include Walt Whitman’s Dream, for large chorus and orchestra, a work commissioned by Continental Harmony, a Millennium project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Composers Forum. He has also composed a piece in collaboration with Garrison Keillor, Surveying Lake Wobegon, which had its premiere at the Ravinia Festival on September 3, 2000 and continued to be played by orchestras from coast to coast. In addition, he contributed a piece for a “quartet of neglected instruments” for the December 23, 2000 Prairie Home Companion broadcast from Town Hall in New York. Angelus, composed in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Minneapolis Civic Orchestra had its premiere on March 17, 2002. Three Pieces for Wind Trio was given its first performance at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City on June 1, 2002.
McGlaughlin served as guest composer in residence at The Chamber Music Festival of the East in Bennington, Vermont in the summer of 2003 and composed two pieces which received their premieres at the Festival — Echoes, for horn trio and Three by Six for chamber ensemble. In October of 2003 McGlaughlin led the Tucson Symphony in the premiere of The Bells of St. Ferdinand.
An unusual request came from public radio station KRWG in Las Cruces, New Mexico: to compose an orchestral piece to celebrate a seventy fifth anniversary, a rare example of a public radio station commissioning a public radio figure. The result was Remembering Icarus, which was premiered by the Las Cruces Symphony in October 2005 and later heard together with an interview with the composer on NPR’s Performance Today. That program has been re-broadcast three times.
In 2008 McGlaughlin had three premieres: the Washington Saxophone Quartet performed Bagatelles at Wolf Trap in February of 2008, the Temple University performed The Heart’s Light at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and Carnegie Hall in April and the Boston Pops premiered Old American Songs for G. K. with Garrison Keillor in May. A second commission from the Las Cruces Symphony produced a work celebrating the 100th anniversary of statehood for New Mexico. Brave New World was given its premiere in Las Cruces in September 2012.
McGlaughlin recently contributed a chapter on the conducting of Leonard Bernstein to the new book published by the New York Philharmonic: Leonard Bernstein, American Original (pub. Harper Collins, 2008).
In October 2010 McGlaughlin went to the WFMT Radio Network in Chicago for a “Mahler Immersion” — a seven hour program before a sold-out studio audience, exploring the music and life of Gustav Mahler, featuring guest artist Thomas Hampson.
In April 2011, The Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio presented McGlaughlin with the AMPPR Lifetime Achievement Award at a conference at WQXR in New York City, citing “McGlaughlin’s incredibly knowledgeable but always inviting and warm presence with which he guides listeners to discover the heart, soul and humor of the music he plays.”
Also in April, McGlaughlin hosted “Trout Week”, a series of five chamber music concerts broadcast live from the Greene Performance Space at WQXR, featuring ensembles from the Ebene Quartet through the Tokyo Quartet.
SUNY Purchase inaugurated the series “Chamber Music With Bill McGlaughlin” in 2010 which continues into its third season.
In summer of 2012 McGlaughlin introduced a new series “Summer Concert Showcase” which played on WQXR in New York City and selected stations through the northeast. On November 3, 2012, McGlaughlin presents a day-long immersion in the Beethoven String Quartets and shares in hosting the Beethoven String Quartet Marathon on November 18. Both events are presented in the Greene Performance Space at WQXR in New York.
McGlaughlin will be in residence at Bowling Greeen State University in Ohio November 5 through 9. And plans a residency at the Gifted Music Academy in Salt Lake City in April of 2013.
Temple University — B.M. 1967, M.M. 1969
Private study in conducting with William R. Smith, Max Rudolph.
Private study in trombone with Henry Smith and Keith Brown
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, 1975-1982 — Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductor, Associate Conductor, Principal Conductor
Eugene Symphony, 1981–1985, Music Director
Tucson Symphony, 1982–87, Music Director
San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, 1986–88, Music Director
Kansas City Symphony, 1986–1998, Music Director
Guest conducting — Baltimore Symphony, Denver Symphony, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, New Orleans Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Opera Theatre St. Louis, American Music Theater Festival, San Antonio Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Camerata, Bloomington, IN
Aaron’s Horizons — chamber orchestra (6/18/98 — St. Paul, MN, St Paul Chamber Orchestra), broadcast on St. Paul Sunday
Angelus — full orchestra (3/17/02 — Minneapolis, MN, Minneapolis Civic Orchestra)
The Bells of St. Ferdinand — full orchestra (10/23/03 — Tucson Symphony Orchestra)
Bagatelles 2/22/08 — Saxophone quartet, (Wolf Trap, Vienna, Va., Washington Saxophone Quartet)
Bela’s Bounce — full orchestra (10/4/98 — Bloomington, Indiana, Camerata)
Brave New World — full orchestra (9/29-30/12 Las Cruces Symphony, Las Cruces, NM)
Carol Antiqua — ensemble of neglected instruments, (12/23/00 – A Prairie Home Companion, Town Hall, New York)
Crooked Timber— full orchestra (1/23/98 — Kansas City, MO, KCSO)
Echoes — Trio for Violin, Horn, Piano (8/2/03, — Bennington, VT)
Remembering Icarus — full orchestra (10/1/05 – Las Cruces Symphony, Las Cruces, NM. Broadcast on Performance Today.)
Old American Songs (mostly) for G.K. — Baritone and full orchestra, (5/13/08 – Symphony Hall, Boston Pops, Garrison Keillor)
Surveying Lake Wobegon, narrator and full orchestra (9/3/00 Ravinia Festival)
Solstice: A Fantasy on Old English Carols — full orchestra (12/10/97 — Kansas City, MO, KCSO)
The Heart’s Light — full orchestra, (3/30/08, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, 4/2/08, Carnegie Hall, NYC, Temple University Orchestra, Luis Biava)
Three by Six — (oboe, clarinet, violin, violas, double bass (7/30/03) — Bennington, VT)
Three Dreams and a Question — chorus and orchestra (4/28/98 — Kansas City, MO, KCSO)
Three Mile Table — (flute, oboe, violin, cello, guitar, piano) (7/18/98 — Elizabethtown, PA, Music at Gretna)
Three Sketches for Three Winds (fl, ob, bssn) – (6/1/02 — Kansas City, MO)
Walt Whitman’s Dream (chorus and orchestra) (7/15/00 — International Choral Festival, Missoula, MT)
Composer in Residence
Music at Gretna, 1998
International Choral Festival, Missoula, Montana (2000) — Continental Harmony
Chamber Music Festival and Composers Forum of the East, Bennington, VT, 2003
St. Paul Sunday, 1980 – present, host
Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin, host — 2003 to present
Center Stage from Wolftrap, 1998 to present, co-host
Sprint Symphony Hour,, Kansas City Symphony, 1988–1999, host
In The Shadow of the Towers — September 11 memorial, narrator
St. Mark Passion with Simon Russell Beales — PRI, Spring 2003, narrator
Lessons and Carols from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, — PRI, Christmas, 2003, narrator
Music from Marlboro, 1990,1991, host
The Kings Singers PBS Christmas Special, 1988, host/conductor
BBC — The Spirit of the Age (Boston Early Music Festival), 1993, host
PBS — Kansas City Symphony in Concert, 1987, host/conductor
Concert Focus, KUAT-TV, 1986–87
Music Notes, KCPT-TV, 1989–90
Philadelphia Orchestra, 1967–68, Assistant Principal Trombone
Pittsburgh Symphony, 1969–75, Co-Principal Trombone
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, 1975–82, Trombone
American Voices, Kansas City Symphony, KCSO
Heartstrings, Kansas City Symphony, BMG,
The Ghost Factory, Kansas City Symphony, Grammavision
Claire de Lune and Sister Moon, producer, Ocean Records
Azure-te, co-producer, Concord Records
Collage, co-producer, Concord Records
Daydream, co-producer, Concord Records
Paris to Rio, co-producer, Concord Records
Ballads, Remembering John Coltrane, co-producer, Concord Records
In Blue, co-producer, Concord Records
Wild for You, co-producer, Concord Records
Footsteps, co-producer, Concord Records
Imagina, co-producer, Concord Records
Round Midnight, co-producer, Concord Records
Peabody Award, 1996 — St. Paul Sunday Morning
Deems Taylor Award (ASCAP), 1990 — St. Paul Sunday Morning
AMPPR L ifetime Achievement Award from The Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio, 2011
Dushkin Award, 2010
ASCAP Awards for programming — 1984, 1988, 1993, 1997, 1998
Westminster College, 1990, honorary doctorate
Rockhurst College, 1997, honorary doctorate