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.
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. Previously he served as Principal Conductor of 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. 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.
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. Recently he made a highly successful debut in Russia with the Astrakhan State Opera and Ballet Theater Orchestra where he conducted the regional premiere of Prokofiev’s Third Symphony, Op. 44 to a sold out audience.
Walker has also 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 Hansel 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).
A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, Walker completed his undergraduate studies in Chicago as a cello student of Richard Hirschl (Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Walker then simultaneously completed his postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music, London and the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna with additional conducting studies at the Aspen Music Festival.
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 performed internationally with orchestras as both a soloist and section principal and worked with many foremost artists including Riccardo Muti, Vladimir Jurowski, Yo-Yo Ma and Håkan Hardenberger. He also participated in masterclasses with Yo-Yo Ma, Natalia Gutman, Astrid Schween (Juilliard String Quartet) and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic.
Also a composer, Walker has written music for solo instruments, large symphony orchestra and dance. His music has been performed in cultural centers such as Chicago, London, Vienna and the Palau de la Música Catalana (Barcelona) and in collaborations with the Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Art Alive it has been performed at the Guggenheim (Bilbao, Spain) and the Sarajevo Ballet Festival.
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.