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Director Williamson will hand down the baton

May 02, 2002|BY KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

"My soul is telling me to sing," says Scott Williamson.

Williamson, a member of the Shepherd College Music Department faculty for three years, will conduct this weekend's Masterworks Chorale and Orchestra performances. He will complete the spring term at the college, and then he will leave to pursue an operatic performing career - a career that already is well underway.

"I've tried to have it both ways," says Williamson. He's built a successful career as teacher and music director. But now he's going to follow his dream.

The 30-year-old tenor says he sang in church but didn't do much with music as a kid in Chesapeake, Va. Music wasn't a particular family focus, although he says his dad has a decent voice and his grandpa played banjo and guitar. Williamson took some lessons on the piano purchased for his younger brother.

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He studied music at Virginia's James Madison University and was enrolled in the ROTC program. He thought he'd study law via the navy.

Instead, he earned his master's degree in vocal performance and pedagogy at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J.

Williamson also studied at the Franz Liszt Hochschule and the International Youth Festival in Germany, performed at the Colmar Festival in France and the Spoleto Festival in Italy and Charleston, S.C., in the mid-1990s.

He served as associate director of choral activities at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., and has directed other ensembles. Last fall, Williamson received some very attractive solo offers - not least of which was performing in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, he says.

"I was really delighted with his performance," says MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze, who conducted tenor soloist Williamson in the March 16 and 17 performances.

"He is a very gifted singer," she says. "I hope to work with him again."

Heather Austin, MSO associate concertmaster, says Williamson's solo was "wonderful." Austin, concertmaster for the weekend's Masterworks performances, has performed with the ensemble several times through the years. She has liked working with Williamson.

"He's nice, supportive, and his conducting technique is clear."

Williamson says he will miss teaching and really miss his students.

"We're sorry to see Scott go," says Mark McCoy, chair of Shepherd's music and theater department, noting that Williamson's performance career has "taken off." But he's not going to be that far away, McCoy says.

Williamson will be completing his doctorate at the University of Maryland and will be working with the Bach Consort in Washington, D.C., next fall. He plans to continue musical collaborations with Assistant Professor R. Scott Beard, coordinator of the keyboard division in Shepherd's music department.

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