John McLaughlin Williams

Grammy Award-winning conductor John McLaughlin Williams (the first African-American conductor to win a Grammy) has been critically acclaimed for his outstanding interpretive abilities and engaging podium presence. Equally at home with the standard literature and the great romantic and early modern music written by American composers, it was with the release of his acclaimed recordings on the Naxos label, that his conducting became familiar to listeners on both sides of the Atlantic. With the National Symphony and Radio Orchestras of Ukraine Williams has made world-premiere recordings of orchestral works by American composers both well-known and neglected for the Naxos label’s celebrated “American Classics” series. He has been critically hailed in international publications, among them Fanfare, Gramophone, Classic FM, International Record Review, American Record Guide, and the French recording journal Diapason. His recordings appear on the Naxos, TNC, Artek, Cambria, Afka, and Sono Luminus labels. Additional recognition came from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2009 and 2011 when he was awarded further Grammy nominations for his conducting in recordings of concerti by Ernest Bloch and Benjamin Lees with violinist Elmar Oliveira, and for Quincy Porter: Complete Viola Works. Williams’s conducting experience includes appearances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Colorado Symphony, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Classic FM Symphony Orchestra (Sofia, Bulgaria), Kiev Philharmonic, Boston Lyric Opera/Opera New England, Boulder Philharmonic, and the Britt Festival, where he served as Assistant Conductor. Williams holds a Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied conducting with Carl Topilow, and composition with Donald Erb and Margaret Brouwer. Williams is as comfortable with popular material as he is with the classics. He’s conducted for R&B superstars Al Jarreau, Brian McKnight, and The Winans in “Christmas Glory”, a gospel Christmas concert production for the FOX and UPN television networks.