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“The cornerstone, though, of the entire night belongs to the charismatic Conductor, Alastair Willis. He was great at conducting, of course, but also narrating and explaining each piece of music. He was so engaging to the audience and brought us right into Vienna in the 1800’s.”

Ian Charles
South Florida Insider
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“Under guest conductor Alastair Willis’ sensitive and impassioned direction, the Tulsa Symphony gave a stunning performance of Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra”

James Watts,
Tulsa World,


“There was much to admire in Willis’ conducting, but two things stood out. First, he was a real detail man. His cues were spot-on, his accents all had the right amount of emphasis and his dynamic shadings were seemingly scientific in their precision — in his magnificent account of the Allegretto from Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, for example, you could actually hear a big difference between soft (piano) and very soft (pianissimo) playing. Yet Willis never lost sight of the big picture, and his interpretations all had a clear sense of musical line. Apparently, he could admire Beethoven’s trees but still be aware of the breadth of the composer’s vast forest.”

John Pitcher,


“The program was filled with comments by Willis, who introduced the works with useful and entertaining remarks. The highlight was the thorough introduction to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture, which, with the help of the orchestra to play some examples, made the work far more engaging and comprehensible to the audience. In many ways, the evening at the Jack Singer Concert Hall belonged to Willis, who is not only a strong podium presence, but an engaging and attractive personality.”

Kenneth Delong,
The Calgary Herald


“Willis has a gift of engaging listeners, a skill that everyone holding a baton should master.”

Jole Luks,
Culture Map, Houston,


“Under Willis’ sensitive and profoundly felt direction (of Shostakovich Symphony No.5), the orchestra’s playing brought out the nervous uncertainty, the fragmented structure, the sense of casting about to find any sort of meaning at all, only to succumb to a sighing despair, that was the first movement, along with the forced gaiety of the waltzing second movement, as happy, burbling dance melodies never quite seemed to match up with each other, like a reflection in a shattered mirror.”

James Watts,
World Scene Writer,
Tulsa World


“It was a pleasure having Shepherd School of Music graduate and Grammy-nominated conductor Alastair Willis return to ROCO. A brilliant musician and an even more entertaining podium conversationalist, Willis was delightful in offering up listening cues to an attentive audience. Whether you agreed with the parental theme across all pieces on the playbill wasn’t the point. It’s that he has a gift of engaging listeners, a skill that everyone holding a baton should master.”

Joel Luks,
Culture Map Houston,
April 24, 2012


GRAMMY® Nomination for Best Classical Album 2009

Official listing of nominees


“the choice of Alastair Willis was an inspired one: ‘We knew he was an excellent musician, and he was highly recommended to us by colleagues in the industry. This GRAMMY® nomination proves that we made the right call.’”

Alan Valentine,
President and CEO, Nashville Symphony

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Nashville Symphony recording of two Ravel Works Receives GRAMMY® Nom for ‘Best Classical Album’

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BWW News Desk


Esa-Pekka Salonen among classical Grammy® nominees

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“(Willis’) clear conducting technique drew a fine, nuanced performance from the orchestra. His remarks between numbers from the podium were witty and established good audience rapport.”

John Fleming,
St. Petersburg Times,


“Willis “paints” sound, adding warmth and depth the way a visual artist blends colors.”

Sharon McDaniel,
Palm Beach Post,


“Seattle’s own prodigiously gifted assistant conductor, Alastair Willis… led the musicians with absolutely electrifying intensity.”

Michael Medved,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,


“Willis conducted the Bernstein (Symphonic Dances from West Side Story) not only with skill and tact and knowledge but undisputed panache and spicy theatricality.  The music leapt across the footlights as the composer intended”

Richard Campbell,
Seattle Post-Intelligence,


“Willis partnered the soloists with care in (Beethoven’s Triple concerto) and went on to another high-energy performance in the Schumann Symphony (no.2)… Reaching into the orchestra as if to grab fistfuls of sound from the players, Willis got the attention and the cooperation of the orchestra in a performance that rang with snap and vigor”

Melinda Bargreen,
Seattle Times,


“The music (Strauss Till Eulenspiegel) describing the life and gallows death of a legendary trickster, is full of theatrical gestures, and Willis savored every one of them.  For all his attention to detail — and his accurate rendering of tempo indications that are often fudged — this was also a red-blooded, impetuous and deliciously over-the-top performance.”

Mike Greenberg,
San Antonio Express News,


“Willis imbued (Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony) with buoyancy, handsome sense of proportion and balance, and a quiet but theatrical flavoring and utter freshness”

Richard Campbell,
Seattle Post-Intelligence,


“(Ravel’s) Tombeau (de Couperin) was performed with elan and understanding”

Keith Marshall,
The Times Picayune,


“But with the outstanding Willis at the podium, offering commentary in iambic pentameter between movements, it was the audience that enjoyed the feast”

Barbara Vitello,
Daily Herald,


“Physically expressive, Willis challenged the orchestra, demanding — and getting — exceptionally focused attention to phrasing.  Friday’s sound was anything but “as usual,” the texture less blended than mosaic, each line standing out clearly.”

Ruth Bingham,
Honolulu Advertiser,


“Willis’ pacing and shaping of the Strauss (Death and Transfiguration) were well nigh perfect.  The conductor had the patience to let slow lines unfold in their own time and the skill to hold them aloft. The performance was beautifully detailed and radiantly played.”

“Indeed, the fit between orchestra and conductor was so close that each seemed like the other’s own skin. That doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, the result is pure magic”

Mike Greenberg,
San Antonio Express-News,


“It’s a challenge for any conductor to make something fresh of such a familiar piece (Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5) but Willis accomplished the feat handily.”

Roy Dicks,
News and Observer,
Raleigh, NC,


“He was a refreshing gust of refined, intellectual air one could welcome at any time.”

Zachary Lewis,