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Colin Williams

Associate Principal Trombone


Colin Williams joined the New York Philharmonic as Associate Principal Trombone in September 2014. He previously served as principal trombone of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, for 12 seasons, and principal trombone of the San Antonio Symphony, for three seasons. He has also performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra (of Washington, D.C.), and Houston Symphony.

Williams made his solo debut with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 2003 performing Paul Creston’s Fantasy for Trombone. He has been a guest soloist with the San Antonio Symphony, U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own), U.S. Military Academy Band, Georgia Brass Band, Atlanta Wind Ensemble, Juilliard Orchestra, and James Madison University Brass Band. He has also appeared as a soloist at the Eastern Trombone Workshop and the International Trombone Festival.

Also active as a chamber musician, Colin Williams has participated in numerous festivals, including the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa in Matsumoto, Japan; Grand Teton Music Festival; and Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival. He has also performed with the Chicago Chamber Musicians.

Williams’s first solo CD, Roadwork, is a collaboration with his former Atlanta Symphony Orchestra colleagues Bill Thomas and George Curran. Together with Bradley Palmer at Columbus State University, the four musicians founded the Southeast Trombone Symposium in 2010: through his continuing work with the Symposium Williams has helped to educate hundreds of young trombonists.

During his high school years Colin Williams studied with Douglass Wright. He continued his education at Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School, where his primary teachers included Philharmonic Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi and Philharmonic trombonist David Finlayson. He is an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West, now a partner in the New York Philharmonic Global Academy.

“I get to play with two of my most important musical influences (David Finlayson and Principal Trombone Joseph Alessi) and one of my best friends (bass trombone George Curran was in my wedding). I feel really lucky.”

Interview with Colin Williams

THE FACTS: Born in Columbia, Maryland. Attended the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School. Prior to the Philharmonic: principal trombone of the Atlanta and San Antonio Symphony Orchestras; performed with the Chicago, National, and Houston symphony orchestras; and was a regular substitute with the New York Philharmonic. Current teaching posts: Montclair State University and Rutgers University. Most recent recording: Roadwork with former Atlanta Symphony colleagues. At the Philharmonic: Joined September 2014.

WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY? Seeing Star Wars when I was four: John Williams’s scores were my first step into the sound of an orchestra. He’s a genius, and one of the most inspiring composers to me. When I was at the Atlanta Symphony, he conducted us and I got to talk to him; he was so cool and humble — just another guy making music.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST PIECE OF MUSIC YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH? Mahler’s Second Symphony, when I was a high school sophomore. I learned it from a recording with Bernstein that introduced me to the New York Philharmonic’s sound, which I aspired to throughout my education and career.

WHAT ELSE DID YOU DO GROWING UP? Baseball, musical theater (I was the lead in Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along in eighth grade), and National Honor Society.

WHAT OTHER INSTRUMENTS DO YOU PLAY? Bass trumpet, euphonium, alto trombone, tenor trombone, and bass trombone. Between my wife (who’s also a trombonist) and me, we own 10 or 11 different instruments!

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE PHILHARMONIC? It was when I was a substitute, playing Maazel’s The Ring Without Words at Carnegie Hall. It was a really meaningful experience to be in the middle of the Philharmonic sound that I’d always loved.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO PLAY ALONGSIDE YOUR FORMER TEACHERS DAVID FINLAYSON AND PRINCIPAL TROMBONE JOSEPH ALESSI? I get to play with two of my most important musical influences and one of my best friends (bass trombone George Curran was in my wedding). I feel really lucky.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? My wife, Nicole, and I explore New York’s restaurant scene, play video games, and travel — and we’re redesigning our one-bedroom apartment to accommodate our first child in June!

As of May 2016

Upcoming 2023-2024 Performances

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