Julius P. Williams Elected First African American President of the Conductors Guild

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Williams, a professor in the Composition Department, began his two-year term on January 3. 

Julius P. Williams, professor in the Composition Department at Berklee College of Music, was named the first African American president of the Conductors Guild. His two-year term began on January 3.

In its 34th year, the Conductors Guild is a global membership organization encompassing conductors of symphony, opera, ballet, choral, band, contemporary, and chamber ensembles. The organization trains and mentors conductors of all ages, races, and education levels.  

Williams is also the artistic director and conductor of the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra; music director and conductor of Trilogy: An Opera Company in New Jersey; composer in residence with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and is cover to maestro Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra. 

Julius P. Williams (right) and John Farrer, immediate past president, the Conductors Guild
Image courtesy of the Conductors Guild

The appointment of Julius Williams as president of Conductors Guild is both meaningful and newsworthy. Maestro Williams has not only the stellar credentials, but the right vision, breadth, and leadership to set a powerful example for our field,” said Afa S. Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization. “We applaud the Conductors Guild on this news and look forward to many inspiring programs and ideas that will undoubtedly emerge.”

Williams’s career has taken him from his native New York to musical venues around the globe and has included virtually every musical genre. He has conducted ensembles at Carnegie Hall, and performances with orchestras in Dallas, Savannah, Hartford, Sacramento, Tulsa, and Knoxville, as well as the Harlem Symphony, Armor Artist Chamber Orchestra, Connecticut Opera, and Kalistos Chamber Orchestra in Boston.

“Julius Williams is a talented leader with years of experience as a prominent conductor and composer,” said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. “I’m delighted that he will take the helm at the Conductors Guild.”

The year ahead for the Conductors Guild includes plans for additional conductor training workshops, symposia with leading conductors of the day, including Andris Nelsons and Gianandrea Noseda, as well as an international conference set for February 2020, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain, Montréal.

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