Stephen Williamson is the new principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic. He has held the same position with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2011, and he succeeds Stanley Drucker, who retired in 2009 after 60 years with the orchestra. He starts on the job this fall.
Williamson should know his way around Lincoln Center. He received his masters degree from Juilliard and went on to become the principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from 2003 to 2011. He has also served on the clarinet faculty at Columbia University and the Mannes College of Music.
Williamson's appointment, announced Thursday, ends a long and somewhat difficult process to find a successor to Drucker. The Philharmonic had given the job to Ricardo Morales, the principal clarinetist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. But he changed his mind last year, citing family reasons. Morales stayed with the Philadelphia Orchestra where his wife is a violinist.
A native of Austin, Texas, Williamson received his bachelor of music degree and performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music. He has been with the CSO for only a season-and-a-half and will be officially on leave next year. Among his other accomplishments, Williamson's playing can be heard on the soundtrack to the movie "Lincoln."
Philadelphia to Record for Yellow Label
Last July, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin began a "long-term collaboration" with Deutsche Grammophon, the respected classical music label. On Thursday, the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he is music director, announced that its first album on the label will feature Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.
Set to be released this fall, the recording will be made under studio conditions (as opposed to a live concert performance) at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia. The Philadelphians gave the US premiere of the iconic Rite in 1922 under Leopold Stokowski. The news was first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer.