John E. Williamson, professor of conducting, has been director of bands at Central Michigan University since 1979. Born and raised in Joliet, Illinois, he studied clarinet with his father and Jerome Stowell of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition to guiding all aspects of the Central Michigan University band program, he is conductor of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which has performed for the Midwestern Conference, regional and national conferences of MENC and the College Band Directors National Association and in historic Carnegie Hall, New York. In 1997, Professor Williamson founded the CMU Chamber Winds, which is comprised of faculty and selected students from the School of Music.
This ensemble presents regularly scheduled concerts and was featured at the 60th annual Midwest Clinic in December 2006. He was previously conductor at Wheeling (IL) High School, where his wind ensemble gained national recognition due to its unique programming and performances across the United States, including a performance at the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago. The Sousa Foundation recently honored the Wheeling program, as one of the nation’s finest with Mr. Williamson receiving the coveted Sudler Award.
He is active as an adjudicator, clinician and guest conductor nationally with additional appearances in Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia. He has received praise for his interpretations from such leading composers as Michael Colgrass, Karel Husa, H. Owen Reed, David Maslanka, Augusta Read Thomas and David Gillingham. Among the many soloists he has accompanied are Adolph Herseth, Dale Clevenger and Michael Henoch of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Professor Williamson is a member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association, National Band Association and Phi Mu Alpha. He has held offices in the College Band Directors National Association and is head of the commissioning project for the Mid-American Conference Band Directors Association. In addition to being listed in the International Who’s Who in Music, he has received the NBA Citation of Excellence, was the first Illinois director to receive the “MAC” Award from First Chair of America. He was most recently presented the Excellence in Teaching Award from Central Michigan University, as well as the Orpheus Award from Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity. He has been a new music reviewer for The Instrumentalist, BD Guide and Band magazines and is co-author of “Strategies for Teaching High School Band” published by MENC.