Short Biography

For programs, press, other media outlets.

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William C. White is a conductor, composer, teacher, writer, and performer based in Portland, OR. He has written music for the concert stage, theater, cinema, and church, and his music has been performed throughout North America as well as in Asia and Europe. His major works include a symphony in three movements and several narrated works for young audiences. His music has been recorded on the MSR Classics and Cedille Record labels.

Mr. White served for four seasons (2011-15) as Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, working closely with music director Louis Langrée and an array of guest artists, including John Adams, Philip Glass, Jennifer Higdon, Itzhak Perlman, Robert Spano, Juanjo Mena, Juraj Valcuha, and James Conlon.

As part of his appointment with the CSO, he was also Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, a tenure notable for its tours to Chicago and New York, both featuring all 20th- and 21st-century repertoire, and community-wide choral collaborations raising money for charity. During the 2015-16 season, Mr. White served as Interim Music Director of Portland, OR’s Metropolitan Youth Symphony, leading their season-end tour to Beijing.

Mr. White has long-standing associations with a number of musical organizations, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he has regularly given pre-concert lectures since 2008.  For three seasons, he was Music Director of Cincinnati’s Seven Hills Sinfonietta, a period which saw remarkable growth for the organization as a whole.

Mr. White earned a masters degree in Conducting from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, studying with David Effron and Arthur Fagan. He received a BA in Music from the University of Chicago, where his principal teacher was the composer Easley Blackwood. In 2004, he began attending the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors (Hancock, ME) under the tutelage of Michael Jinbo, later serving as the school’s Conducting Associate (2009-2013) and Composer-in-Residence (2016).

Mr. White hails from Bethesda, MD, where he began his musical training as a violist. He maintains a significant career as a guest conductor and clinician, particularly of his own works. His orchestral arrangements, including “Happy” (Pharrell), “Dear Theodosia” (Hamilton), and “They Just Keep Moving the Line” (SMASH!) have been performed by orchestras throughout the United States. In 2016 he provided orchestrations for the national tour and Madison Square Garden runs of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.

In 2015, Mr. White launched a YouTube series called “Ask a Maestro” where he answers questions about the world of classical music. Recordings of his works can be heard at his web site, www.willcwhite.com, where he also maintains a blog and publishing business.

June 2017

Long Biography

More candid, sprawling, bloggier bio for general readership

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William White hails from Bethesda, MD, where he learnt to play the viola in his elementary school music class. He soon figured out enough of the notes on the keyboard to write some modest compositions and from then his path was set. An unexpected chance allowed him to conduct his High School’s Musicals and he nurtured his talent as a music director and conductor in Bethesda’s all-youth Wildwood Summer Theatre.

At the age of 18, a performance of West Side Story under his baton was professionally and critically acclaimed. William attended the University of Chicago, studying music theory, composition and orchestration under the tutelage of Easley Blackwood. While there, he played viola in the Symphony Orchestra, sang tenor in the Motet Choir, and conducted numerous student concerts and theater productions. He graduated in 2005 with honors for his senior thesis composition, Fantasy on “Les Folies d’Espagne”.

During his summers off from the U of C, William studied conducting with Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School, where he later served as Conducting Associate (and for which he composed two of his children’s pieces, Cinderella Goes to Music School and How to Become a Composer.)

After graduating college, he launched his musical career in Chicago. In three years, he held music director posts with the Hyde Park Youth Symphony, the U of C Chamber Orchestra, the Presbyterian Church of Barrington, Rockefeller Chapel, and the Union Church of Hinsdale. During this time, he composed a number of works for a variety of performers, the largest of which was his oratorio for choir, soloists, and orchestra, Thy King Cometh. He produced his own recording of the oratorio during the summer of 2007, with a group of friends, collaborators and freelance musicians, a pattern he would go on to repeat many times.

He then spent two years in Bloomington, IN, at Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music, studying conducting with David Effron and Arthur Fagen, earning his living as a music theory instructor and operatic assistant conductor. He frequently returned to Chicago as a pre-concert lecturer for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and to play chamber music with old friends.

May of 2009 saw the first release of his music on a professional record label, Chicago’s Cedille Records. The piece, an a cappella setting of the Nunc Dimittis, was recorded by the Wm. Ferris Chorale under Paul French.

William White then spent four years in Cincinnati, OH as Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. Favorite collaborators in Cincinnati included Philip Glass, John Adams, and Jennifer Higdon. While in Cincinnati, he was also music director of the ever-charming Seven Hills Sinfonietta.

Cincinnati ended up being a fertile ground for his efforts as a composer; he composed a symphony for the CSYO and a new children’s work for the 7HS, among several other works. He also continued his many, many side projects as an arranger, a highlight reel of which includes: “They Just Keep Moving the Line” and “Happy” for the Cincinnati Pops; a 13-instrument version of West Side Story for The Carnegie theater; and a symphonic suite from “Sweeney Todd”.

In August of 2015, Mr. White stepped in for friend and colleague Andrés Lopera when Mr. Lopéra was appointed to the Colorado Symphony and served one season as Interim Music Director of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, in Portland, OR. In June 2016, he took that group on a tour to China. As a parting gesture he arranged “Dear Theodosia” from Hamilton for them since he and the students shared a certain fanaticism for that show.

A frequent guest conductor and lecturer, Will White collaborates on a variety of concert, film, and recording projects, including the feature length Mulligan and Cold Turkey, both directed by friend and collaborator, Will Slocombe.  His music for 91.7 WVXU‘s “Cincinnati Edition” can be heard in SW Ohio on weekdays at 1:00. In 2016, he orchestrated the entire score of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for that musical’s national tour and Madison Square Garden runs. Weeks later he was in the Czech Republic collaborating with the Janacek Philharmonic on a recording of his orchestral works.

You can see him answer an array of musical questions as part of his YouTube series, Ask A Maestro.

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