April 19, 2022
Gail Williams '76 MMus is an internationally recognized hornist and brass pedagogue. She has presented concerts, master classes, recitals and lectures throughout North America, as well as in Europe and Asia. Ms. Williams joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in December 1978, and was appointed associate principal horn in 1984, a position she held until her retirement from the orchestra in 1998. She has been a member of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra and is currently principal horn of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra. As featured horn soloist, Professor Williams has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Sinfonia da Camera, New World Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony, Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, Green Bay Symphony Orchestra and a number of regional orchestras. Professor Williams has also performed in 2004 as principal horn with the Saito Kenin Orchestra with Maestro Ozawa in Matsumoto, Japan. In 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009, she was principal horn with the World Orchestra for Peace (WOP), under Maestro Gergiev, with concerts in London, Berlin, Moscow, Beijing, Budapest, Rotterdam, Brussels, Jerusalem, Krakow, and Stockholm. In the summer of 2010, Professor Williams performed Mahler's 5th symphony with WOP live on the BBC in London and in Salzburg, Austria. Other WOP performances include Abu Dhabi (January 2011), and New York City and Chicago (October 2012).
Professor Williams is dedicated to performing and promoting chamber music. She has performed with the Vermeer Quartet, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York City, The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, The Skaneateles Music Festival, Sante Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Olympic Peninsula Chamber Festival. She was the featured artist on a chamber music series in Ottawa, Canada, with the National Arts Orchestra of Canada. She is a founding member of the Chicago Chamber Musicians (CCM), a critically acclaimed chamber music ensemble which has commissioned and performed works for their Millennium concert series and the CCM’s concert series. A recording of all-Mozart works, including the Horn quintet, was nominated for a Grammy in 2006. Professor Williams is also an original member of the Summit Brass, with whom she has made eight recordings. During the 2009-10 season, she had three recording projects comprising commissioned solo and chamber compositions and lesser-known works for horn.
In addition to her recordings with Summit Brass, Professor Williams can be heard on her solo recordings: 20th Century Settings and Deep Remembering, which are available on Summit Records. An additional solo recording has been released by Northwestern University: Goddess Trilogy, featuring compositions by John McCabe and two works for horn percussion by Charles Taylor and Eric Wilder. In the spring of 2011, Professor Williams released a recording of four commissioned works, available on CD Baby.
Professor Williams has played an active role in commissioning projects and performing contemporary solo works for the horn. In 1995, she premiered Dana Wilson's Deep Remembering and Anthony Plog’s Postcards at the International Horn Society Workshop in Yamagata, Japan. In 1997, she premiered Dana Wilson’s Horn Concerto with the Syracuse Symphony. A year later, Professor Williams performed the Oliver Knussen Horn Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Knussen. She helped commission Yehudi Wyner’s Horn Trio and was involved in the orchestration of Dragons in the Sky by Mark Schultz. Professor Williams premiered another horn and piano work by Dana Wilson, Musings, in 2003 and performed both this work and his concerto at the 2005 International Horn Society Workshop. She performed the U.S. premiere of a Concerto for Horn and Orchestra by Collins Matthews at Northwestern University in June of 2005. In June 2012, Professor Williams premiered a commissioned concerto by James Stephenson at the IHS Symposium in Denton, Texas.
Professor Williams has given master classes and recitals around the world, working with musicians at Juilliard School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory, the New World Symphony, Eastman School of Music, Boston Conservatory, Rice University, University of Houston, University of Illinois, Sam Houston University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, the NAC Orchestra (Ottawa), and Music Hochschule (Frankfurt, Germany). As a member of Summit Brass, she has been coaching young brass musicians since 1986. Since 1980, Professor Williams has been a featured recitalist and lecturer at the International Horn Society Workshops in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Germany. In 2001, 2005, and 2009, she served as one the judges for the Horn Solo Competition in Porcia, Italy.
Gail Williams has been on the Bienen School faculty since 1989. In May of 2005, she received the Charles Deering McCormick Teaching Professorship. With the award, she has commissioned and performed three new chamber works for horn and mixed instruments by Douglas Hill, Dana Wilson, and Augusta Read Thomas. Professor Williams studied with John Covert at Ithaca College. Her awards from Ithaca College include the Ithaca College’s Young Distinguished Alumni Award and an honorary doctorate of music.
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