William Helmers


William Helmers

William Helmers, clarinet, has been a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra since 1980. Mr. Helmers also performs with the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, Present Music, and as a guest artist with several other Midwestern ensembles and orchestras.  In summers, he has been a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, the Washington Island Chamber Music Festival, the Colorado Music Festival, and the Token Creek Festival. He has been a clinician and recitalist at colleges and universities around the country.

Mr. Helmers is active in the performance and recording of new music; he gave the North American premiere of John Adams' clarinet concerto Gnarly Buttons in 1997, and the world premiere of James Grant’s Concerto for Bass Clarinet in 2004.

Mr. Helmers has performed internationally, including appearances at music festivals in Japan, Korea, Turkey, France, China, and Canada. Recently, he participated in the first complete American recording of the cycle of quintets by Anton Reicha with the famed Westwood Wind Quintet.

Mr. Helmers' other interests include golf, canoeing, Civil War history, and playing saxophone with Milwaukee's All-Star Superband.

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William Helmers joined the Milwaukee Symphony in 1980. He has also been a member of the contemporary ensemble Present Music since the group’s inception. He has worked with many other orchestras, including Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cleveland, Ravinia Festival, Santa Fe Opera and Rochester. Mr. Helmers is active in commissioning, performance and recording of new music; he gave the North American premiere of John Adams' clarinet concerto, Gnarly Buttons, with the composer conducting, and the world premiere of James Grant's Concerto for Bass Clarinet.  Mr. Helmers has made numerous premiere recordings of solo and chamber music, including compositions by Roberto Sierra, James Grant, Kamran Ince, Jerome Kitzke, and others.

Holding degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, Mr. Helmers’ primary teachers were Stanley Hasty and Joseph Allard. Other influential teachers included Anthony Gigliotti, Ronald Reuben, Harold Wright and Mitchell Lurie.

Mr. Helmers performs chamber music throughout the year in many different settings. He is a founding member of Musaik, a consortium of Milwaukee musicians, and in summers he attends the Washington Island Music Festival. He has been a member of the Portland-based Westwood Wind Quintet, participating in many of their recordings for Crystal Records. Recently, he has enjoyed regular engagements with the Little Lake Stompers, a traditional jazz group.

When away from the clarinet, William enjoys time spent with family and friends. He looks forward to golf, canoeing and kayaking, cross-country skiing, and being out with his two dogs, Teddy and Luna.