Of his performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers in San Francisco Heuwell Tircuit of the San Francisco Classical Voice said, “William Jon Gray conducted the combined [Carmel Bach] Festival Chorale and members of the Festival Orchestra in a religious masterpiece, not one of Bach’s but the massive Claudio Monteverdi Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 to the largest packed house I’ve seen at Old First in over 35 years of on-and-off reviewing there. It created a sensation, as indeed it deserves when so ably presented. Fine playing and excellent vocal work littered the evening with one peak experience after another...the applause hit like a prolonged tsunami.”
Conductor William Jon Gray is Assistant Professor and Director of Choral Studies at the University at Albany. He comes to the University at Albany from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he held the position of chair of the choral department, and where he conducted the Pro Arte Singers, the University’s prestigious chamber choir, and taught graduate-level conducting, choral literature, and score study. Since 2010, he has been chorus director of Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, conducting the fully professional chamber chorus in subscription series concerts and preparing the ensemble for performances with internationally renowned conductors Jane Glover and Nicholas Kraemer. He has been associate conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California, leading major choral and orchestral works and preparing performances with conductor Bruno Weil. He has also been assistant conductor of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society.
Dr. Gray has made guest appearances with orchestras and choruses at festivals around the United States, including the Handel and Haydn Society, Princeton Festival, National Chamber Orchestra, Billings Symphony, and the Lafayette Symphony. In August of 2010 and 2012, he prepared the professional Grant Park Music Festival Chorus for performances of Dvořák’s Requiem and The Spectre’s Bride and Haydn’s The Seasons in collaboration with Carlos Kalmar. He has prepared choruses for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the National Chamber Orchestra, and has served as faculty director of opera choruses for the Indiana University Opera Theatre, collaborating with such notable stage directors as Tito Capobianco (La Traviata), Colin Graham (Peter Grimes), Vincent Liotta (A View from the Bridge), and Tomer Zvulun (Faust).
William Jon Gray was artistic director of the Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra of Washington, DC, from 1986 to 1993, and artistic director of the Bach Chorale Singers from 1994 to 2010, conducting more than 100 performances of major choral works. With the Bach Chorale Singers, he received national critical acclaim for the commercially released recording, “In Praise of the Organ: Latin Choral and Organ Music of Zoltán Kodály.” Recent conducting appearances include Handel’s Esther in Charleston with the Pro Arte Singers and Baroque Orchestra, Haydn’s The Creation in Indianapolis and Bloomington, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Metropolitan Opera baritone Timothy Noble and mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson.
William Jon Gray studied at Indiana University, the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, and Boston University. He performed frequently with Robert Shaw as a member of the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, both in recordings and concerts in France and at Carnegie Hall.