Tenor William Watson has been teaching voice for over fourteen years and was a member of the voice faculty at Northern Illinois University for eleven years. He has also taught at Loyola University of Chicago, North Park University, and Aurora University. Mr. Watson has taught voice to high-school students at Glenbrook North and Plainfield North high schools. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in music at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, where he studied voice with Dr. Richard Sjoerdsma, currently editor of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Bulletin. Mr. Watson studied further at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria where he was a student of Donna Harrison. Mr. Watson is a member of the Chicago Singing Teachers Guild.
One of the foremost Bach Evangelists of his generation, tenor William Watson has been a frequent guest of orchestras and concert organizations throughout the United States and abroad. Most recently, he performed the Bach Christmas Oratorio in Mexico City with the National Symphony of Mexico. With Mexico's Xalapa Symphony he performed Christmas Oratorio as well as the Bach St. Matthew Passion Evangelist. Following Messiah with the Monterey Symphony and a gala performance at Carnegie Hall, Mr. Watson sang the St. John Evangelist with the Bach Society of St. Louis to great critical acclaim as well as the St. John arias at the Boulder Bach Festival. Mr. Watson has sung the St. Matthew Evangelist with Chicago's Music of the Baroque, broadcast on NPR, as well as with the Bach Society of St. Louis, Buffalo Philharmonic, Portland Symphony, Princeton University, in debut with the Noord Nederlands Orkest, and with the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall. St. John appearances include the symphonies of New Jersey, Youngstown, Alabama and Kitchener-Waterloo (ON) as well as the Columbus Bach Ensemble.
Appearances with major orchestras and conductors include Carmina Burana and Mozart's Cm Mass with the Cincinnati Symphony and Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Leonard Slatkin with the St. Louis Symphony in Schubert's Mass in G, St. Matthew arias with Lukas Foss and the Milwaukee Symphony, Schubert masses with Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony, and Messiah with the Rochester Philharmonic and Mark Elder. Mr. Watson performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Sir Georg Solti in the St. Matthew Passion, recorded on London Records. Other orchestras include those in Louisiana, Wichita, Jacksonville, Fort Wayne, Monterey, South Bend, Evansville, Aachen (Germany), and New York's Orchestra of St. Luke's, with which Mr. Watson made his Carnegie Hall debut.
In his native Chicago, Mr. Watson, in a long association with Music of the Baroque, has performed all the major works of Bach plus several cantatas; most of the major oratorios of Handel plus his operas, Alcina and Semele; many works of Purcell; the Vespers of 1610 by Monteverdi plus his operas, Orfeo, Poppea, and Ulisse; and several works of Mozart and Haydn. Also in Chicago, at the Grant Park Music Festival, Mr. Watson has performed Bruckner's Te Deum with Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Mozart's Requiem with Christoff Perrick, Carmina Burana with Leonard Slatkin, and also Davidde Penitente by Mozart, the Beethoven Choral Fantasy, and the Rachmaninoff Vespers.
In opera, after apprenticing for two summers at Central City Opera where he performed Nemorino in Elixir and Ramiro in Cenerentola, Mr. Watson has sung at Lyric Opera of Chicago in Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, conducted by George Manahan, Strauss' Capriccio, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk by Shostokovich, conducted by Bruno Bartoletti, and created the role of President Van Buren in the world premiere production of Amistad by Anthony Davis, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. With Cleveland Opera Mr. Watson has performed Jaquino in Fidelio, Pedrillo in Abduction, and David in Meistersinger. He has sung several times with Chicago Opera Theater, from his debut as Tonio in Daughter of the Regiment to Pedrolino in Mozart's Jewel Box as well as in the critically acclaimed productions of Philip Glass' Akhnaten (Amon), directed by Tony award winner Mary Zimmerman, and Monteverdi's Orfeo (Apollo), a production subsequently chosen to take part in the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Monteverdi opera festival. He performed Eumete in Monteverdi's Ulisse for Boston Baroque and, on very short notice, jumped into Philip Glass' opera, In the Penal Colony, singing the main role of the Visitor at the Court Theater at the University of Chicago. Mr. Watson has sung leading roles with Palm Beach Opera, Texas Opera Theater, Pennsylvania Opera Theater, Chamber Opera Chicago, and spent two seasons at the Aachen Stadttheater in Germany, appearing in Idomeneo (Idamante), Verkaufte Braut (Wenzel), and as Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte. He also sang Cosi at the San Sebastian Festival in Spain, Cenerentola at the Europera Festival in France, and L'Elisir d'amore at the Klagenfurt Stadttheater in Austria.
On recordings, in addition to the previously mentioned St. Matthew with the Chicago Symphony and Solti on London as well as the Vorisek mass with the Czech National Symphony on Cedille Records, Mr. Watson also appears on Newport Classics CD Where're You Walk (English Handel arias), performing the title aria, and on the recently released recording of the opera Amistad, in which he created the role of President Martin Van Buren, on New World Records.