Illinois has new conductor

Illinois has new conductor


norman lebrecht

April 02, 2021

The University of Illinois has found an experienced conductor for its symphony orchestra, replacing Donald Schleicher who is retiring after 26 years.

William Eddins will hold the title of visiting Director of Orchestras and Conductor of the UI Symphony Orchestra for the coming season.

He’s former music director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, 2005-2017.



  • Stoneboy says:


  • caranome says:

    isn’t that a huge demotion, from Edmonton to U. Illinois? Both are in the boonies, but still. 12 years in Edmonton gets you just a “visiting” director? Is the job market is so bad for tier-3 musicians that you take what you can get & count your blessings? Or this is a DIE hire?

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Ever heard the wind ensemble from U. of Illinois? . . . I have. They were frighteningly good. I would imagine their symphony orchestra would be quite good as well. Mr. Eddins may have a chance for tenure there, and will probably receive medical benefits of some sort.

    • Tom Clowes says:

      Is it fair to assume that if a Black person was hired it was because of his race if you don’t similarly assume that if a White person was hired it was because of his race?

      • Anon says:

        If programs and training that promote critical race theory, anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion exist, unfortunately, people will always think these things.
        Liberals don’t always think things through.

  • Jerome Hoberman says:

    Congratulations to William Eddins, and congratulations to the Univ. of Illinois! To inherit and have the opportunity to build on the legacy of Paul Vermel is no small thing.

  • Walter says:

    Cool. Can he conduct?

  • Brian says:

    I have very fond memories of a fine and charismatic guest conductor of the (then) National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland in the naughties, who gave some fantastic performances, including one conducting either a Ravel or the Gershwin concerto from the piano. (Here my memory fails me.) Such energy! One always left the National Concert Hall with a smile.

    A sadder memory of mine is of lying in a Dublin hospital bed one Friday evening in 2006, thankfully healthy, but full of regret at missing Mr Eddins’ Shostakovich 8, which I’m sure was amazing.

    With all due respect to the Illinois band, I’m surprised he hasn’t conducted (to my knowledge anyway) the really great orchestras of this world. Yet.

  • Larry says:

    And former music director of the RTE Symphony in Ireland. He is also an accomplished pianist, often plays/conducts concerts.

    • Arthur Kaptainis says:

      Once played the Hammerklavier in public.

      • Rob McAlear says:

        Goyescas too.

        And, along with Lukas Foss and the composer himself, is the only other person who has both conducted and played the solo piano part of Bernstein’s “Age of Anxiety”. None of them played and conducted concurrently, though.

  • Bill Doggett says:

    Congratulations Maestro Eddins

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    He’s a real talent both with his conducting and piano playing.

    UofI has made a great pick. They have to give him room to take on guest conducting opportunities that he is qualified for and that will add luster to the Illinois brand.

    He now has to get rid of the hipster jive and become a professor that can inspire.

  • Anon says:

    I’ve played with him before. He’s very good. I was surprised he didn’t break through and have a sustained international career. He was certainly qualified.
    Not that there is anything wrong with teaching.

  • Anon says:

    Bravo, Maestro Bill Eddins! A super talent whose outstanding work and valuable musical leadership has been under recognized for far too long. UI is a big winner here.

  • Congratulations, William. Enjoy the musical life on campus.

  • Sara Davis Buechner says:

    A superb conductor and pianist with enormous repertoire, intensity and intelligence, piercing humor and infectious good will. Bravo Bill!

  • BRUCEB says:

    Regarding all the “but is he qualified/ can he conduct/ is this a DEI hire” posts: his skin color isn’t mentioned in the announcement.

    All they have to do is show a picture, and the snowflakes are triggered.

  • Robert Levine says:

    Bill is a hugely talented and accomplished musician; they are lucky to get him.