Musicians involved in the project

Eliesha Nelson, viola
Douglas Rioth, harp
John McLaughlin Williams, conductor, piano/harpsichord, violin

Douglas Rioth

Douglas Rioth

Douglas Rioth, San Francisco Symphony (SFS) Principal Harpist, joined the Orchestra in 1981 and has performed as soloist with the SFS in works of Handel, Mozart, Ginastera, Debussy, and Frank Martin. He has performed many times in the SFS’s Chamber Music Series and has appeared in several Wondrous Sounds concerts. Mr. Rioth studied with Alice Chalifoux and Elisa Smith Dickson and attended the Interlochen Arts Academy and Cleveland Institute of Music, as well as the Berkshire Music Center. Before coming to the SFS he was principal harpist of the Indianapolis Symphony for six years. He is head of the harp department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and serves on the coaching team of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.

John McLaughlin Williams, Conductor & Violinist

John  McLaughlin Williams

2007 Grammy Award winner 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 has become familiar to listeners on both sides of the Atlantic. With the National Symphony and Radio Orchestras of the Ukraine, Williams has made world premiere recordings of orchestral works by well-known and neglected American composers for Naxos' celebrated American Classics series. He has been critically hailed in international publications such as Fanfare, Gramophone, Classic FM, The International Record Review, American Record Guide, and the French recording journal Diapson. His recordings appear on the Naxos, TNC, Cambria, Artek and Afka labels, and his forthcoming recording of The Complete Viola Works of Quincy Porter will appear on the Dorian label.

Additional recognition came from the National Academy of Recorded Arts and Sciences in 2009 when he was awarded a second Grammy nomination for his conducting, with Elmar Oliveira violinist, in recordings of the Violin Concerti by Ernest Bloch and Benjamin Lees. In 1999 Mr. Williams received the Geraldine C. & Emory M. Ford Award for American Conductors.

Williams’ conducting experience includes work with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine, National Radio Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine, Kiev Philharmonic, Boston Lyric Opera/Opera New England, Boulder Philharmonic, the Cayman Arts Festival, Greenville Symphony, and East Texas Symphony. Williams’ Master’s degree in conducting comes from the Cleveland Institute of music where his primary teacher was Carl Topilow, conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra and the Cleveland Pops Orchestra.

As comfortable with popular material as he is with the classics, Mr. Williams was Music Director for R&B superstars Al Jarreau, Brian McKnight, and The Winans for Christmas Glory 2005, a gospel Christmas concert for the FOX and UPN television networks that was broadcast Christmas day.

Williams is an active violin soloist and chamber musician. He began violin studies at age ten in a Washington, D.C. public school. At age 14 he appeared as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Williams studied with Dorothy Delay (teacher of Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, Nigel Kennedy and Midori, among others) at the New England Conservatory. As violin soloist, Williams has appeared with many orchestras, including the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and the Portland Symphony.

Williams was Concertmaster of the Virginia Symphony and was a member of the Houston Symphony. As guest Concertmaster he has appeared with the Bolshoi Ballet and Kirov Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pennsylvania Ballet, Youngstown Symphony, Opera of North Carolina, and the Portland Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops Orchestra, and was Assistant Concertmaster of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.

Williams has recorded chamber music for the Afka label and jazz with the Max Roach Double Quartet. His composition credits include writing music with Michael Kamen (Lethal Weapon, Die Hard) for the soundtrack to Mr. Dreyfuss Goes to Washington, a documentary for The History Channel.

John McLaughlin Williams is represented exclusively by GKW Creative Management.