Grammy Award-winning conductor John McLaughlin Williams has been critically acclaimed for his outstanding interpretive abilities and engaging podium presence. Equally at home in the standard literature and the masterworks of American composers, it was with the release of his acclaimed recordings on the Naxos label that his conducting first attracted international attention. With the National Symphony and Radio Orchestras of Ukraine, Williams has made world-premiere recordings of orchestral works by composers both well-known and neglected for the Naxos label’s celebrated “American Classics” series. He has been critically hailed in international publications, among them Fanfare, Gramophone, Classic FM, International Record Review, American Record Guide, and the French recording journal Diapason. His recordings appear on the Naxos, TNC, Artek, Cambria, and Afka labels. His next recording is Karl Weigl: The Complete Violin Works, recorded with pianist Glen Inanga, to be released on the Sono Luminus label.
In 2007 Williams was awarded a Grammy for the TNC recording of Messiaen’s L’Oiseau Exotiques with Angelin Chang and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. Additional recognition came in 2009 and 2011 when he was awarded further Grammy nominations for his conducting in recordings of concerti by Ernest Bloch and Benjamin Lees with violinist Elmar Oliveira, and for Quincy Porter: Complete Viola Works. Mr. Williams is a recipient of the Geraldine C. & Emory M. Ford Award for American Conductors. Williams arranged the National Song of the Cayman Islands, which will be the country’s official version for use at Olympics and public events.
Williams has appeared around the country and internationally with such orchestras as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Classic FM Orchestra (Bulgaria), Chicago Sinfonietta, The Cayman Arts Festival, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Britt Festival, The Dream Unfinished and many others. He has conducted for Platypus Theatre, the celebrated Celtic band Colcannon, and the Max Roach Double Quartet. He has conducted for R&B superstars Al Jarreau, Brian McKnight, and The Winans for “Christmas Glory”, a gospel Christmas concert for the FOX and UPN television networks. His composition credits include work with Michael Kamen (Lethal Weapon, Die Hard) for the soundtrack to Mr. Dreyfuss Goes to Washington, a documentary for the History Channel.
Williams is also a violin soloist, pianist, and chamber musician. He began violin studies at age 10 in a Washington, D.C. public school. At age 14 he appeared as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared as soloist with orchestras such as the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, the Portland Symphony Orchestra and others. Williams served as Concertmaster of the Virginia Symphony and was a member of the Houston Symphony. As guest concertmaster he has appeared with the Bolshoi Ballet, Kirov Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pennsylvania Ballet, the Opera Company of North Carolina, and the Portland Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra, and was Assistant Concertmaster of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.
John’s next recording will be released in 2017: Karl Weigl: Complete Violin Works
Label: Sono Luminus
Karl Weigl (1884-1949) was an eminent Austrian composer who enjoyed great success in the first half of the 20th century, particularly in the years between the wars. Weigl was a protégé of Mahler, assisting him in opera and symphonic performances. His music was performed by the greatest artist of the day: Wilhelm Fürtwangler, Edwin Fischer, George Szell, the Rosé Quartet, Karl and Paul Doktor, Ignaz Friedman, Joseph Wolfsthal, Leopold Stokowski and many others.
With the rise of National Socialism and concomitant persecution of Jewish artists, Weigl was forced to emigrate. He safely resettled his family in America, but never regained the reputation and frequent performances of his European years. His music was kept from being totally forgotten through the efforts of the Karl Weigl Foundation (http://karlweigl.org/), which was founded by Weigl’s wife, Vally.
Like Mahler, Weigl found his greatest successes with his large symphonic works, yet he was also highly adept in the more intimate realms of chamber music and lieder, producing a body of work of exceptional quality. His music for violin consists of two full-scale sonatas, two pieces, and a four movement autobiographical suite titled Pictures from Childhood.
Despite many performances of the sonatas before WWII, commercial recordings were never undertaken. This CD is the premiere recording of these two sonatas, which in quality rank among the finest of the 20th century.
Pierné: Impressions de Music Hall
Eliesha Nelson with John McLaughlin Williams: Blues Lontains
“…the real star is John McLaughlin Williams, who not only conducts Porter’s concerto, but also joins Nelson on violin and piano.” – Howard Goldstein, BBC Music Magazine
“The musical lines and shapes that result from Rosner’s modality are harder to perform than they sound, and the excellent John McLaughlin Williams leads the orchestra through very strong renditions of both works…” – Carson Cooman, Fanfare, July/August 2008
“John McLaughlin Williams, although a relatively young conductor, has an enviable discography so far. I can’t praise his work enough. I have no idea how good an orchestra the Ukraine has, but Williams makes it sound very close to top rank.” – Steven Schwartz, Classical Net
“John McLaughlin Williams accompanies perfectly, balancing the orchestra with a sure ear. Throughout, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine plays with the utmost dedication and with a spirit of discovery that is simply infectious, faultlessly guided by Williams. Impressive.” – Colin Clarke, Fanfare, November/December 2006
“The National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine responds splendidly to its guest American conductor John McLaughlin Williams, who is completely and convincingly at one with this music. He creates a ﬁne sound from the string sections and unlike many orchestras from this part of the world, the winds and brass play with utter sensitivity, ﬁne solo sounds where applicable and with spot-on intonation and tone. How interesting it is that a ﬁne American conductor recording ﬁrst-rate American music has to travel to the other side of the globe to bring it to life.” – Kevin Sutton, MusicWeb, March 2005
“John McLaughlin Williams delivers absolutely masterful and deeply engrossing readings… In fact, Williams, a child prodigy who is also an accomplished violinist and is here making his recording debut, is a genuine ﬁnd.” – Paul A. Snook, Fanfare, September/October 2001
“Here, as elsewhere, John McLaughlin Williams moulds the changing moods and colours with tremendous conﬁdence and the Ukraine musicians capture Hadley’s idiom as to the manner born…”— Jeremy Nicholas, International Record Review, November 2001
“Three recording premieres for the American Hadley, accessible and enthusiastically played…Another Naxos rediscovery among North American romantics. Williams and the Ukrainian players really make the most of these ﬁrst recordings and there’s an informative CD booklet: it all lifts Hadley deservedly from history into sound at a stroke.” – Peter Dickinson, Gramophone, November 2001
“Williams and the Kiev-based orchestra outdo themselves on this CD with ﬁrst-class playing and committed interpretations; I wouldn’t expect to hear better anywhere.” — Raymond Tuttle Classical Net
“One of the most beautiful ﬂorets of the American collection of Naxos, and a conductor whom one hopes to hear again often” 5 Diapasons—Diapason (France), October, 2001, Williams Reviews P.2
“Recording, performances and documentation are each admirable. The conductor is to be watched for the future…however we must not be surprised if his name is soon linked to the likes of the Dallas or Minnesota orchestras.” — Rob Barnett, MusicWeb, July 2001
“John McLaughlin Williams, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute Of Music, conducts vibrant performances. He invests energy where it is needed and emphasizes the tenderness that pervades many pages of Carpenter’s scores.” – Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer
“To be honest, we were hesitant to order this CD when it ﬁrst came out, as we had been underwhelmed by some of this orchestra’s earlier recordings. However, since Maestro Williams made his Naxos recording debut with the orchestra in June of 1999, its sound has improved considerably. Whatever he’s doing, we hope it continues.” – John McGrody, Network Chicago
“If Nelson is star of this show, John McLaughlin Williams is its master of all trades. He is conductor of the Northwest Sinfonia, a Seattle-based ensemble, which he leads through a gorgeous performance of Porter’s sumptuously scored Viola Concerto; sits at the piano for the Speed Etude, Blues Lontains, and Poem; takes on the harpsichord in the Duo for Viola and Harpsichord; and plays violin in the Duo for Violin and Viola. His violin credentials are especially impressive. He served as concertmaster for the Virginia Symphony and as guest concertmaster for the Portland Symphony Orchestra and the Bolshoi, Kirov, and American Ballet Theater orchestras.” – Jerry Dubins, Fanfare
“He presided authoritatively, drawing articulate and sonorous playing from the …musicians… Williams and company gave the work a concentrated performance in which every detail mattered.” – Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer
“…he exhibited a big, luscious tone with lots of oomph…” – Richard Buell, Boston Globe
“…played with a beautiful singing tone…perfectly poised…” – Richard Dyer, Boston Globe
“…(his playing showed) a combination of energy and effortlessness…” – Patriot Ledger
“…Williams showed…his virtuosity…played with bravura…” – The State
“(Williams played) with clarity, superb technique and an impassioned touch…” – The Enterprise
“John McLaughlin Williams was an expert soloist…” – Boston Globe
“…he displayed his abilities by handling the tricky…passages with ease and catching the buoyant quality of this work.” – Daily Press