Short Biography

For programs, press, other media outlets:

William C. White (b. 1983) is a conductor, composer, teacher, writer, and performer based in Seattle, WA. Equally known for his original music as for his bold interpretations, Mr. White is an innovative programmer and conscientious leader in the musical community.

Mr. White currently serves as music director of Harmonia, a unique performing ensemble comprised of a chorus and orchestra that concertize as one. For four seasons (2011-15) he served 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, and Itzhak Perlman. A noted pedagogue, he has led some of the nation’s finest youth orchestra programs, including Portland’s Metropolitan Youth Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Mr. White has significant experience working with choirs and vocal soloists in a variety of contexts, from small a cappella ensembles to major symphonic and operatic choruses. He has long-standing associations with a number of musical organizations, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for whom 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 maintains a significant career as a composer of music for the concert stage, theater, cinema, church, radio, and film. His music has been performed throughout North America as well as in Asia and Europe. His output includes a symphony, an oratorio, chamber music of all varieties, and several works intended for young audiences. His music has been recorded on the MSR Classics, Cedille, and Parma record labels. Recordings of his works can be heard at his web site,, where he also maintains a blog and publishing business.

Mr. White earned a masters degree in Conducting from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, studying symphonic and operatic repertoire with David Effron and Arthur Fagen. He received a BA in Music from the University of Chicago, where his principal teachers were the composer Easley Blackwood and the conductor Barbara Schubert. In 2004, he began attending the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors under the tutelage of Michael Jinbo, later serving as the school’s Conducting Associate, then as its Composer-in-Residence.

Mr. White hails from Bethesda, MD, where he began his musical training as a violist. He is active as a clinician, arranger, and guest conductor, particularly of his own works. His orchestral arrangements, including “Happy”, “Dear Theodosia”, and an orchestral suite from Sweeney Todd have been performed by orchestras throughout the United States.

Mr. White publishes the weekly Tone Prose newsletter on Substack, analyzing news and trends in the world of classical music, an outgrowth of his work producing and co-hosting The Classical Gabfest podcast from 2020–2022.

September 2023

Hi-res headshot (photo credit: John Cornicello)

Long Biography

More candid, sprawling, bloggier bio for general readership:
**please do NOT use this material for programs, introductions, or any other formal occasions**


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 three of his children’s pieces, Cinderella Goes to Music School and How to Become a Composer and Carnival of the Animals: MAINE EDITION.) He returned in 2016 and 2018 as the school’s composer-in-residence.

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 keep 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.

Will then spent four years in Cincinnati, OH as assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. He took the youth orchestra on tours to Chicago and New York (where they played a Carnegie Hall program the likes of which few youth orchestras would imagine: Schnittke(x2) / Prokofiev / White.) 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. Lopera 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.

After his interim year with MYS, Will continued living in Portland working as a composer, producing pieces such as Dans les champs de Valensole (inspired by a summertime road trip through Europe), Nightfall, Recollected Dances, and his largest chamber work to date, the Trio for viola, horn, and piano. While in Portland, he also returned to church music, singing and touring with the choir of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

In August of 2018, Will moved to Seattle, WA to assume his duties as the third ever music director of Harmonia, an extraordinary organization that fuses together a choir and an orchestra as a unified performing ensemble. His first season there featured the music of Lili Boulanger. Favorite collaborators there have included the composers Quinn Mason, Carlos Garcia, Sheila Bristow, Carol Sams, Huntley Beyer, and Robert Kechley.

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.

Past extracurricular activities include his YouTube series, Ask A Maestro and his podcast The Classical Gabfest (2020–2022.) He now publishes the Tone Prose newsletter on Substack along with his friend and associate Joseph Vaz. He is a regular guest on Putting it Together, a podcast that explores the songs of his favorite recently-living composer, Stephen Sondheim.

White is a committed animal rights advocate and has been a dedicated vegan since 2011.

Photo Gallery

The artist in his studio, July 2021