William Conway, Principal Cello

William Conway is a founder member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and was invited to become their principal cello in the last year of his studies at the Royal College of Music.

He is an internationally renowned cellist and conductor, whose performances have been described as ‘astonishingly convincing’ (Opera magazine), ‘a tour de force’ (Guardian), with ‘a flair for the unpredictable’ (Financial Times). On the podium, he is known for his conviction, clarity and intelligent musicianship, while his collaborations with Hebrides Ensemble, of whom he is the Artistic Director and founding member, have been praised for their fresh and inspirational approach to programming.

Born in Glasgow, Will studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music then London’s Royal College of Music before returning to Scotland to take the position of Principal Cello with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, a post he held for ten years. He is a passionate advocate of contemporary music and has commissioned and performed a huge range of new works from composers such as Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Sir James MacMillan. His work with Hebrides Ensemble, described by The Scotsman as ‘one of the most innovative and thrilling ensembles in Europe’ and now in its third decade, underpins this commitment. By placing new music at the heart of a diverse range of repertoire, often in new and surprising contexts, Hebrides Ensemble encourages audiences to embrace new music and to approach familiar music with fresh ears. His dedication to developing contemporary music has been recognised by an award from the Scottish Society of Composers for an outstanding contribution to new music.

As a conductor, he studied in Helsinki with Jukka-Pekka Saraste and was a finalist and prizewinner in the 1994 Leeds Conductors’ Competition. Since then, he has established himself as a conductor of versatility in chamber, symphonic and operatic repertoire, and has conducted the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, English Sinfonia, Chamber Orchestra of Europe (with whom he has made a CD recording released by Warner), and the Symphony Orchestras of Cairo, Sofia, Zagreb, de Filharmonie of Flanders, the Belgian orchestra Beethoven Academie, Teatro di Cagliari, Göettingen, Aalborg Symphony and the American Phoenix Symphony Orchestra in all repertoires from baroque to present day. He is a regular guest with many young orchestras including the National Youth orchestras of Scotland and Australia.

Former Music Director of Edinburgh Studio Opera for ten years he is currently Music Director of EUMS Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Advisor of St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh. He broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 and has recorded for Linn Records, Unicorn-Kanchana, Delphian Records and Deutsche Grammophon.

He plays on a cello from 1695 by Giovanni Tononi of Bologna.

The principal cello chair is supported by an anonymous donor.


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