Meet The Performers

Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Woodwinds - Clarinet

Stephen Williamson

Clarinet
Principal Clarinet

Stephen Williamson is the principal clarinetist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Riccardo Muti.  Mr. Williamson recently was the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic (2013-14 season) under Alan Gilbert  as well as  principal clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (2003-11) under James Levine.  In addition, he has been a frequent guest principal clarinetist with the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra in Japan under Seiji Ozawa.

Mr. Williamson is currently on the faculty of DePaul University in Chicago, IL.  He has served on the clarinet faculty at Columbia University and the Mannes College of Music in New York City, as well as at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan.  He has recorded for the Sony Classics, Telarc, CRI, BMG, Naxos and Decca labels and can be heard on numerous film soundtracks.  Most recently, Mr. Williamson was a featured soloist with the CSO under the baton of John Williams, recording his Oscar-nominated score for Steven Spielberg's film, "Lincoln.” 

An avid soloist and chamber musician, Mr. Williamson has performed extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia.  He has collaborated with such artists as: Yo-Yo Ma, Jeffrey Kahane, Anne Marie McDermott, Emanuel Ax, Meliora Winds, Aspen, Dorian and Sylvan Wind Quintets; Brentano, American, Jasper and Dover String Quartets.  Most recent concerto performances include the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with both the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in Japan (2011) and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in Carnegie Hall under conductor Fabio Luisi (2012). 

He received his Bachelor’s degree andPerformer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and his Master’s degree from the Juilliard School. As a Fulbright Scholar, he furthered his studies at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, where he collaborated with various members of the Berlin Philharmonic. His past teachers include Peter Rieckhoff, Charles Neidich, Kenneth Grant and Michael Webster.  Mr. Williamson was the grand prize winner of the 1994 Boosey & Hawkes/Buffet Crampon First Annual North American Clarinet Competition.  Other past awards include the Concert Artists Guild Competition as well as the Coleman International Chamber Music Competition.

A long-time Selmer-Paris and Vandoren Artist, Mr. Williamson currently plays Selmer Signature clarinets and uses Vandoren traditional reeds with a James Pyne JX/BC mouthpiece. He resides in Wilmette, IL with his wife Jill, sons Ryan, Connor, Matthew and their dog Lila.

February 2015

Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.