New York Philharmonic Names Principal Clarinetist

Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 02:08 PM

Stephen Williamson Stephen Williamson (Todd Rosenberg)

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.


More in:

Comments [8]

Rebecca Arnold from Colorado

The politics of large and small orchestras is a real shame. Mark Nuccio is a stellar clarinetist and yet was relegated to acting principal for several years. Was his name not "big" enough to be principal? Not enough allure? Not enough wealthy patrons in love with him? What? It's the NY Phil's loss in my opinion.

Nov. 07 2013 11:22 AM
AL VIDOVICH from Rockaway NJ

I would like to offer my best wishes to Stephen Williamson on his appointment
as Principal Clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic.
You will again be part of one of the great orchestras of the world. I look
forward to attending a concert when I can hear you.
All the best!
Al Vidovich

Feb. 16 2013 10:54 AM
john dunbar from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

The more clarinetist in the world the better. Oh - those sweet, pure, silvery tones of Mozart's clarinet concerto ! I'm obsessed with that work and listen to it every day of my life

Feb. 16 2013 07:37 AM
Daniel Polowetzky from NYC

There must be a legal/contractual reason for the distinction between "Acting Principal" versus "Principal". Otherwise, an orchestra would simply appoint someone Principal Clarinetist until replaced with someone deemed better. My hunch is that Principal Clarinetists cannot be replaced in the same manner as Acting Principal Clarinetists.

There is something simply undignified about being an "Acting" anything, unless there are good reasons why being Principal would not be ideal. Why not replace "Acting Principal" with "Soon to be replaced by a....we really like"!

Feb. 16 2013 12:45 AM
Josh Stein

Dido too daniel. Although it is a tough business to be in. One would think by now Mark Nuccio would deserve the job by now. It sas a lot about the NY Phil. However, I did get a chance to Steve Williamson Live at clarinetfest. I he dose play well as Mark does.

Feb. 15 2013 09:21 PM
Arthur Zeiger from Santa Monica,CA

In response to the first comment,at this
level a principal requires more than flawless
technique and competence but individuuality.

Feb. 15 2013 04:55 PM

Perhaps Nuccio can audition for the CSO; I hear there's an opening.

Feb. 15 2013 01:37 PM
Daniel Polowetzky from NYC

What exactly is wrong with Mark Nuccio, Acting Principal Clarinet?
Is there some deficient aspect to his playing that disqualifies him for the job? I must be missing something, but I would guess that he probably qualifies as the most pissed off clarinetist in a major orchestra!

Feb. 14 2013 09:48 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR 







About WQXR Blog

Read WQXR's coverage of classical music news, trends, commentary and more here at the WQXR Blog.