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William Thomas McKinley

Born: 1938

Nationality: American

Publisher: AMP

William Thomas McKinley was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, December 9, 1938. One of the most highly regarded and well-known composers of his generation, McKinley learned both classical and jazz piano at a very early age, became a member of the American Federation of Musicians at twelve, and has since pursued a diverse and intensely active professional career in both fields. To date, he has composed over 300 works, is listed in the 2001 edition of Groves' Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and has received commissions from the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, the Fromm Foundation and the Naumburg Foundation. His many awards and grants include, among others, an award and citation from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and eight NEA grants. His oral biography is documented in the Major American Composers Series at Yale University, and William Thomas McKinley: A Bio-Bibliography, a biography and complete catalog of his works, has been published by Greenwood Press. As a jazz pianist, he has performed, composed, and recorded with the likes of Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Eddie Gomez, Gary Burton, Miroslav Vitous, Rufus Reed, Ray Hughes, and Billy Hart, to name a few. McKinley has studied with many renowned teachers and composers, including Aaron Copland and Gunther Schuller.

2001 was an eventful year for Mr. McKinley: his Mostly Mozart (for Piano and Orchestra) and Six Movements for Clarinet and Orchestra were recorded early in the year by the Moravian Philharmonic and conducted by Vit Micka. In August Glenn Dicterow and Karen Dreyfus recorded Concert Variations for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Carl St. Clair. The same session saw Richard Stoltzman recording Nine Shades of Lament for Clarinet and Orchestra; both will be released on the MMC label in late 2002. McKinley's Tango Variations for Violin and Piano received its world premiere at the hands of Boston's Janus 21, with Andrew Kohji Taylor on violin. Upcoming events include a performance of Nine Shades with Stoltzman on clarinet with Max Hobart conducting the Boston Civic Symphony in November; in January 2002 the Indianapolis Chamber Symphony will premiere McKinley's Freedom Dreams, a new work dedicated to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. The work will be performed on the Doctor's birthday, January 21, and conducted by Kirk Trevor. The Boston Modern Orchestra, under the direction of Gil Rose, will perform McKinley's Flyin' Home in January.

Previous years have seen a bounty of performances and recordings of McKinley's work. To name a few: the RCA Red Seal recording, with clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, of the Clarinet Sonata with Irma Vallencillo and the Second Clarinet Concerto with the Berlin Radio Symphony under Lukas Foss; the London Symphony's recording of Wind, Fire and Ice, as well as his Violin Concerto No. 1; recordings and performances of his Ninth String Quartet by the Boston Composers String Quartet at Weill Recital Hall and the Tsai Performance Center, as well as the fourth performance of the Emsdettener Totentanz at the Musiksommer Festival in Quedlinburg, Germany, where McKinley served as the Guest Composer-in-Residence. McKinley's violin concerto, Seasons of Prague, in Dvorak Hall in the Czech Republic with the Prague Radio Symphony; McKinley's arrangements of numerous pop songs were performed by the Seattle Symphony as a part of the Cyberian Rhapsody: the first major live orchestral concert to be broadcast on the internet; McKinley's own brainchild, Master Musicians Collective Recordings will also be releasing numerous McKinley works performed by major orchestras including the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Prague Radio Symphony, and the Seattle Symphony.

McKinley has been featured on the Koch and Owl Recording Labels, as well as RCA Red Seal and MMC.
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