William McClain Named Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Director

by Barbara

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra, predominantly run by volunteers, has selected William McClain as its seventh music director in its illustrious century-long history.

McClain takes over from Josh Aerie, who served for eight years before stepping down to focus on his cello career. McClain emerged as the frontrunner among several finalists following a season where each contender conducted a concert featuring their chosen repertoire.

Assuming the role on July 1, 2024, McClain will lead the orchestra into its 102nd season. The upcoming season, details of which will be unveiled in August 2024, promises concerts in October and December 2024, and in February, April, and June 2025.

McClain brings a wealth of experience, having performed at prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Sheremetev Palace in St. Petersburg. Currently a violist with the Augusta Symphony Orchestra and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra, he has also been associated with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and the Tri-Cities Opera Orchestra.

An associate professor of music at Millikin University in Illinois, McClain concurrently serves as the music director and conductor of the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra, entering his fifth year in that role.

McClain’s academic credentials include degrees in orchestral conducting and viola performance from The University of Maryland at College Park, Ithaca College, and The University of Texas at Austin.

Expressing his excitement on Facebook, McClain remarked, “I am so honored to be the next music director of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra of Indiana! It is such a fun group of musicians. I can’t wait for what’s coming next.”

Rachel Wilkin, the symphony’s past board president and co-chair of the music director search committee, praised McClain’s collaborative approach, stating, “William is very encouraging and he is able to work with the orchestra in a way that is very special. He has a background working with a variety of other community groups. With that background, he possesses a lot of things that we were looking for in a conductor. Additionally, he has an extensive breadth of knowledge when it comes to repertoire. He loves to talk about all that, and it was fascinating to hear him talking about pieces that we were going to be playing.”

McClain’s appointment marks an exciting new chapter for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, promising a blend of experience, innovation, and artistic vision in the seasons to come.

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