William Short

William Short was appointed Principal Bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2012. He previously served in the same capacity with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and has also performed with the Houston Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra. William has performed as soloist with the Vermont and Delaware Symphonies, as well as the New York Classical Players. He is the bassoonist in the Gotham Wind Quintet.

A dedicated teacher, William serves on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Temple University, as well as the Verbier Festival and Interlochen Arts Camp. He has presented classes at colleges and conservatories around the country and at conferences of the International Double Reed Society, for which he serves as an officer.

William has also performed and taught at the Lake Champlain, Lake Tahoe, Mostly Mozart, Stellenbosch (South Africa), Strings, and Twickenham Festivals. An occasional editor and composer, his works have been published by the Theodore Presser Company and TrevCo-Varner Music.

Committed to forging connections between audiences and performers, William's articles on the subject can be found on the MET Orchestra Musicians' website, which has been lauded not only by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, but also by noted arts consultant Drew McManus and prolific cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht.

William received his Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Daniel Matsukawa and Bernard Garfield, and his Master of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Kamins. He attended festivals including the Music Academy of the West, Pacific Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Verbier Festival. Additional major teachers have included Jeanine Attaway, Kristin Wolfe Jensen, and William Lewis.

"That's a Hard Job!"

One of the first things a fellow musician usually says when I tell them I play in the MET Orchestra: “That’s a hard job!” The long hours, the constantly shifting repertoire, the extremes of character on any given night…it’s challenging. (In fairness, is there really such a thing as an easy job? I don’t think so, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

I knew this going inI knew it before I even showed up at the audition. Or at least, I thought I did. Perhaps unconsciously, my assumption was that the “hard” part would be working my tail off to be as prepared as possible, resulting in a succession of performances that would end with wiping my brow and saying, “Phew, I’m glad that went OK.” I couldn’t conceive of allowing anything to go truly badly, because I was convinced I just wouldn’t let it happen.

The problem is, that’s not how it goes. Despite your best efforts, sometimes you just won’t play all that well, and that’s a hard thing to deal withespecially when it’s in front of colleagues you respect immensely and 3,800 expectant audience members. It’s an intense sensation (especially as a 23 year-old) to come down from initial thrill of winning an audition and realize that you’re now expected to be a leader among musicians who were on a pedestal just days ago. To me, the truly hard part of the job is when I feel that I’ve failed to live up to that expectation.

I learned an immense amount from Larry Rachleff, the deservedly-renowned music director of the Shepherd School Symphony. One thing in particular that he said has stuck with me most of all. When asked what it “takes” to make it as a musician, he always responds, “The ability to keep trying when you won’t get what you want 75% of the time.”

There’s this notion that if you win a great job, you’ve figured everything out. But the reality is, we all exist on a continuum on which we’re always trying to improve. In practical terms, that means you won’t get what you want (in this case, living up to a certain standard) every single time, especially at first. I like to think that I’ve improved (actually, I’m pretty positive I’ve improved a lot), but those first couple of years, and the first year in particular, were hard. How did I come to terms with that? Next time.