Hello, My Name Is Will . . .

and I’m a cellist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

I first discovered the cello when I was seven. Both of my parents were music lovers. My father took classical guitar lessons and loved to sing, and my mother was an avid pianist.

They brought me to a music introduction course for kids and there I beheld the four instruments of the string family for the first time. Initially I was drawn to the largest of the four instruments, the double bass. In my mind, bigger meant better, and I wanted to start on the bass right away. My parents however, reasoned with me that the bass was way too large for a seven-year-old child.

We made an agreement that I would start on the cello first, and that if I still wanted to play the double bass when I grew older, I would be able to make the switch then. I eagerly agreed. To no one’s surprise, I fell so deeply in love with the cello that it never crossed my mind again to make the switch to double bass.

Will with his teacher, Peter Wiley, who also played in the PSO cello section; Bronwyn Banerdt, and former PSO assistant conductor Earl Lee. Will, Bronwyn and David all studied cello at Curtis with Peter Wiley.

If my life were structured like a sonata, the event that would note the end of my exposition and a true beginning to my development was my immense fortune of being accepted to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. At Curtis, my desire for a career playing in a symphony orchestra became fully cemented when I learned that both my incredible teachers began their careers in orchestras. One of my teachers, Peter Wiley, also joined the cello section of the Pittsburgh Symphony fresh from Curtis, but when he was 19! My other teacher, Carter Brey, began his career from the ranks of the cello section in the Cleveland Orchestra, left to pursue a solo career, and eventually found his way back to the orchestra; he now leads the cello section of the New York Philharmonic. Naturally I aspired to follow in their footsteps.

I was already enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston for post-graduate studies when I was presented the opportunity to audition for the cello section of the Pittsburgh Symphony in the summer of 2016. I knew that taking auditions was what I planned to be doing during grad school, so why not just take the audition now? Somehow by God’s grace I was hired! I had to inform the school and the teacher I was going to be studying with that I was sad to no longer be coming to Boston in the fall, but that I was moving to Pittsburgh.

It was one of the best decisions of my life.

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