archive of soloists

Alastair Willis

Alastair Willis

In 1999, Willis was invited to the American Symphony Orchestra League’s National Conductor Preview in Salt Lake City, and awarded a conducting fellowship to attend the Tanglewood Music Festival, where he studied and collaborated with Seiji Ozawa, Robert Spano, Sir André Previn, Michael Tilson Thomas and Jorma Panula.
2000-2001 Willis appeared with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Oregon Symphony, San Diego Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and the orchestras of Hartford, Rhode Island, Knoxville and Harrisburg.
In 2002, Yo-Yo Ma personally asked Willis to be the conductor for several performances of his Silk Road Project residency presented by the Seattle Symphony and has since re-invited him to be a regular conductor for him and this project all over the world, including residencies in New York, Chicago and North Carolina.
In the 2003-2004 season Willis made his subscription concert debuts with the North Carolina Symphony, the Toledo Symphony, the Elgin Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Colorado Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, the China National Symphony Orchestra Beijing, and the Orchestre de Bretagne (France), including the New Year’s Day 2004 concert with the Graz Opera orchestra (Austria). He also made return appearances with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Seattle Symphony.
In the summer of 2004 he conducted his San Francisco Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony and Hong Kong Sinfonietta debuts, and returned to the Houston Symphony.
Willis made debut appearances in the 2004-05 season with the orchestras of Kansas City, Omaha, Edmonton, Honolulu, and The Super World Orchestra Tokyo, and he was invited to conduct a new production of Cavalieri’s “Rappresentazione di Anima e di Corpo” at the Cologne State Opera in May and June of 2005. He returned to the Oregon Symphony, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
Season 2005-06 featured him at the podium with the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Orquestra Sinfonica Brasilieras in Rio de Janeiro and the orchestras of New Jersey, Winnipeg, San Antonio, Virginia, Omaha, and Kitchener-Waterloo.
After returning to the San Francisco Symphony in July 2006, Willis led both the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and the Nashville Opera in concert versions of Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and also Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les Sortileges” which were then recorded and released on the Naxos label, which was Grammy nominated for Best Classical Album in 2009.
During the 2007-08 season, Willis returned to the orchestras of Indianapolis, Omaha, Tulsa and Kitchener-Waterloo, and made his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops.
In 2007-2009 Willis was re-invited by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Detroit Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Elgin Symphony, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, Barra Mansa and Petrobras Orchestras (Brazil) and made his debuts with Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic, Eugene Symphony, and Skagit Opera (WA) where he was immediately re-engaged for two more productions.
2008-2011 Wills led three hugely successful seasons of Coffee Concerts with the Florida Orchestra (St Petersburg) where he expanded the season from six concerts in his first year to ten concerts in his third year, playing to sell-out audiences.
Born in Acton, Massachusetts, Mr. Willis lived with his family in Moscow for five years before settling in Surrey, England. He received his bachelor’s degree with honors from England’s Bristol University and continued his studies at Kingston University, where he earned a post-graduate Certificate of Education degree, teaching classroom music from grade-school to high-school levels. In 1994, he was awarded the Salveston Baton Prize for his work with several youth orchestras in and around London. He won a scholarship in 1996 to study with Maestro Larry Rachleff at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, graduating with a Master of Music degree in 1999. In addition to assisting Maestro Rachleff, he spent three years as Principal Conductor of the Campanile Orchestra.