JOHN MCLAUGHLIN WILLIAMS
“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 reviewing Williams conducting works by George Frederick McKay on Naxos. Paul Snook - Fanfare
Grammy Award winning American conductor John McLaughlin Williams has been critically acclaimed for his outstanding interpretive abilities and engaging podium presence. With the release of his recordings on the Naxos label, his conducting has become familiar to listeners on both sides of the Atlantic, and he has been critically acclaimed in international publications such as Fanfare, Gramophone, Classic FM, The International Record Review and American Record Guide and the French recording journal Diapson. With the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and the National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Williams has made world premiere recordings of orchestral works by well-known and neglected American composers on Naxos' celebrated American Classics series. His recording of Henry Kimball Hadley’s The Ocean had the distinction of a place on the British classical charts for several months in 2001. 2006 saw the release of John McLaughlin Williams’ fifth recording for Naxos, and his sixth and seventh cds for American Classics (orchestral works by Nicolas Flagello) were released in 2007. He was awarded a Grammy for his recording of Olivier Messiaen’s L’Oiseax Exotiques with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and Angelin Chang.
John McLaughlin Williams was recently appointed Assistant Conductor of the Britt Festival in Jackson, Oregon. His guest conducting appearances include the Boulder Philharmonic, the Cayman Arts Festival (B.W.I.), Greenville Symphony (SC) with Carolina Ballet Theatre, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony (with whom he conducted Messiaen’s L’Oiseaux Exotiques), the East Texas Symphony Orchestra, and the Suburban Symphony Orchestra (in a concert which featured Shostakovich’s Symphony #5 and Korngold’s Theme & Variations). John’s ability to effortlessly cross musical genres brought him to the podium to conduct the orchestra for Christmas Glory 2005, a Gospel Christmas concert broadcast Christmas Day on the FOX and UPN television networks that featured his collaborations with Al Jarreau, Brian McKnight and The Winans. In 1999, John McLaughlin Williams received the Geraldine C. & Emory M. Ford Award for Conductors. John is also known for his advocacy of the music of our time and particularly of African-American and minority composers. He gave the premiere performance of William Grant Still's recently discovered orchestration of Florence Price's piano work Dances in the Canebrakes (1999), and conducted Villa-Lobos’s Choros No. 6 with the East Texas Symphony Orchestra. The performance of Still’s orchestration, with the Centennial Celebration Orchestra, was broadcast nationally on National Public Radio's "Performance Today". Williams has been featured on many other radio programs, including WCLV’s The Black Arts. Some of his other guest conducting appearances includes the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera/Opera New England and the Cleveland Philharmonic. In September of 2003, John McLaughlin Williams gave the American premiere of Erwin Schulhoff’s oratorio H.M.S. Royal Oaks.
John McLaughlin Williams began violin studies at age ten in a Washington D.C. public school, followed by private study with the late Howard University professor Bernard Mason. At age 14 the Cabinet wives of the Nixon Administration selected Williams to solo with the National Symphony Orchestra in its first Kennedy Center concert series for Washington D.C. schoolchildren. Studies at Boston University and the New England Conservatory were with Jerome Rosen, Eugene Lehner and Dorothy Delay. While attending the Cleveland Institute of Music, from which he received undergraduate and graduate degrees, Williams studied with Martin Chalifour (violin), Donald Erb and Margaret Brouwer (composition) and Carl Topilow (conducting).
Williams was a member of the Houston Symphony, concertmaster of the Virginia Symphony, and has appeared as violin soloist with many orchestras, including the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic and the Portland Symphony. Among the conductors he has appeared with as a soloist are James Sedares and film composer John Williams. John McLaughlin Williams was the soloist in the American premieres of Sir Arnold Bax' Violin Concerto and Joseph Jongen's Violin Concerto (both performed in New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall), and in October 1998 Mr. Williams performed Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto in Harvard University’s Sanders Theater.
In addition to his work for the Naxos label, Williams has also recorded two world premiere CDs of chamber works by the Afro-English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; (composer of the oratorio Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast) and the Chevalier de St, Georges for the Afka label. Among the orchestras he has appeared as guest Concertmaster are American Ballet Theatre, Erie Philharmonic, Pennsylvania Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and Kirov Ballet, Youngstown Symphony, Opera of North Carolina, and the Portland Symphony Orchestra.
Williams has also performed many times in the violin section of the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops, in concert and on many recordings, including the soundtrack to Steven Spielberg’s film "Schindler’s List", Mahler’s Symphony No. 10, and The Celtic Album.
Also active as a composer/arranger, John McLaughlin Williams has written the string arrangements and performed as violinist on Bruce Hornsby's Harbor Lights (BMG); and appeared as first violinist of the Uptown String Quartet on the Max Roach Double Quartet CD entitled The Easy Winners. As a composer, Williams most recently wrote music, along with Michael Kamen (Lethal Weapon, Die Hard), for the soundtrack to Mr. Dreyfuss Goes to Washington, a documentary for The History Channel about the founding of Washington, D.C.