Chicago Philharmonic Pianist William Billingham

William BillinghamQ. Who inspired you to pursue music as a career?

A. Probably a combination of circumstances. I always enjoyed playing the piano, and never found anything else that I’d rather do. I had a strongly motivational piano teacher during my undergrad years at Oberlin (Frances Walker) who urged me to pursue a performance degree, because “you never know what will happen unless you try!” And God kept opening doors for me to continue playing!

Q. What do you like most about the CPO’s ensemble approach to creating music?
A. I think chamber music implies a certain amount of democracy, and I certainly enjoy the sharing of ideas and the real listening to each other that goes on in rehearsals, both during and in between the actual music-making. Feeling a shared responsibility for the performance certainly spurs everyone to a heightened focus.

Q. What new endeavors would you like to see the CPO pursue in the future?
A. Maybe a series of concerts that explores the chamber music of one composer (Schumann, Brahms, Dvorak …), or perhaps vocal chamber music … there’s such a wealth of great repertoire!

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