SPRING DELIGHT | 3.7.20 | Millsaps College Ford Academic Complex | 7:30 PM
William Garfield Walker brings a wealth of knowledge gleaned from international stages and the very streets of Vienna when he returns home to Jackson as guest conductor.
Walker, 28, will conduct the closing piece, Schubert’s famous “Unfinished Symphony,” in Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s "Spring Delight" Chamber concert at 7:30pm, March 7th at the Millsaps College Ford Academic Complex. Highlights also include renowned guitarist Giovanni de Chiaro and a concerto written especially for him, plus selections from Christoph Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice”, and Sam Watson’s “Elegy.”
Emerging conductor Walker — the first professional musician in his family — started down the music path playing cello in MSO’s Strings Program in Jackson Public Schools and, at age 16, played professionally with MSO. Walker transferred to Interlochen Arts Academy for his senior year, and went on to the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Royal College of Music in London, and the Music & Arts University of the City of Vienna.
Through school, cello was his main instrument, but his musical curiosity played the field. “I also played the saxophone in the marching band and the symphonic band..…I played the bassoon, the horn, the euphonium, a little bit of piano - and even the organ", Walker says in a call from Vienna.
“I have always had an interest in all genres,” at one point going dual on saxophone and cello, and playing sax in jazz bands. “I think there’s something very special about all genres,” he says, but love for classical music determined his professional career.
Musical curiosity and “an interest in every part of music going on when I was playing the cello part led to conducting, too", says Walker. “Being a conductor unifies all of that. It gives you an opportunity to play all the different parts, and have an influence over it.”
Walker’s first chance at the baton came at Interlochen, where the orchestra’s conductor knew of his interest. “After one rehearsal", he said, ‘I want you to conduct this right here, what we’re working on.’ I got up - I had no idea what I was doing”, but he proceeded, nonetheless. The conductor thought he had potential, and Walker’s studies took him in that direction.
Here’s what he loves about it: “Trying to capture the intentions of the composer, and honor intentions of the composer”, he says, “just trying to get up to the highest level---as close to perfection as possible with the music.”
Walker has performed with orchestras in Europe and United States, including the Berlin Sinfonietta, Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, Moonlight Symphony Orchestra and more, and recently made a successful debut in Russia. In addition to MSO’s "Spring Delight" concert, Walker will be back in Jackson in June, as artistic director and conductor of the Master Camerata Orchestra of MSO’s International Summer Music Festival.
In Vienna, his current home base, Walker is soaking up the music, traditions and culture, like a country artist would in Nashville or a jazz musician would in New Orleans. “You can really learn a lot” from the city’s centuries as a classical music powerhouse. He’s starting a new orchestra in Vienna with the first performance slated for October 2020.
“This is something that blows my mind a little bit: When I got the call from MSO, and they asked me to do Schubert, I was standing inside a building on the street where Schubert used to drink his coffee. It’s really one of those deals where you’re a little bit closer to the composers.
“I’m really looking forward to bringing a little piece of Vienna back home to Jackson.”
3.7.20 / Millsaps College Ford Academic Complex / 7:30pm / Jackson, MS
General Admission Tickets $23: buy here >
Students/children (ages 4-18) $5
Christoph Gluck, Overture to Orfeo ed Euridice
Christoph Gluck, Dance of the Furies from Orfeo ed Euridice
Kermit Poling, Concierto de Chiaro Giovanni De Chiaro, classical guitar
Sam Watson, Elegy
Franz Schubert, Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D 759 "Unfinished"* William Garfield Walker, guest conductor
*performed at first MSO concert Thursday, October 19, 1944 in the Victory Room of Heidelberg Hotel, Theodore Russell, Conductor