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Stephen Williamson: “Music Is a Universal Language. It’s Been Gratifying Within the Doom and Gloom of Everything Shutting Down to Be Able to Perform and Teach Virtually”


In this interview with acclaimed musician Stephen Williamson, the artist provides a detailed insight into his current practice routine, emphasizing the increased dedication to honing his skills amid the unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Williamson discusses the impact of the pandemic on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s activities, highlighting the orchestra’s ability to adapt through innovative initiatives like CSOtv, allowing them to continue sharing their musical talents with the public while navigating safety protocols. The interview delves into Williamson’s involvement in various projects, including virtual teaching and global collaborations, underscoring the universal language of music as a source of connection and solace during challenging times.

The narrative then shifts to Williamson’s personal projects, notably a family brass quintet video created at the onset of the pandemic, which unexpectedly went viral, bringing joy amidst uncertain times. Additionally, the musician discusses his engagement in masterclasses and the challenges and silver linings for training orchestras during the pandemic, emphasizing the importance of honing one’s craft even in the absence of live audiences.

The final section focuses on Williamson’s work on clarinet accessories, particularly his collaboration with the late James Pyne and the ongoing efforts to continue the tradition of exceptional clarinet mouthpieces. The artist also shares his collaboration with barrel maker Huang Wenchia, highlighting improvements made during the pandemic. The interview concludes with insights into Williamson’s longstanding association with Selmer Paris and his commitment to continually enhancing his equipment for the pursuit of musical excellence in the orchestral realm.

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ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music