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.

A dedicated teacher, William serves on the faculties of The Juilliard SchoolManhattan School of Music, and Temple University. He has presented classes at colleges and conservatories around the country and at the 2014 International Double Reed Society Conference.

William has performed and taught at the InterlochenLake ChamplainLake TahoeMostly MozartStellenbosch (South Africa), StringsTwickenham, and Verbier Festivals. In 2015 he made his solo debut with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, performing David Ludwig's Pictures from the Floating World.

William has toured the United States with Curtis on Tour and has performed and taught in Belize, Cuba, Guatemala, and Nicaragua with the Philadelphia-based wind quintet Liberty Winds. His performances have been featured on American Public Media's “Performance Today” and on WHYY’s “Onstage at Curtis.” An occasional composer, his works have been published by 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 FestivalSpoleto Festival USA, and the Verbier Festival. Additional major teachers have included Jeanine AttawayKristin Wolfe Jensen, and William Lewis.

Crashing and Burning with Friends

I used to hate playing for other people. In the weeks leading up to an audition, I never felt “ready.” I thought I had to play my absolute best, or else it would be a waste of time. What use would it be to ask for comments, when most of them would boil down to practicing more? So, I wouldn’t do it. I knew that I should, but I didn’t ever feel up to it until I was so close to the audition that it seemed too late. In retrospect, I misunderstood the deeper value of playing for others. Of course, feedback is often helpful and sometimes invaluable, but there was much more I was missing out on.

I finally broke through my self-imposed barrier when I prepared for the Met audition. By that point I understood that my reluctance was a crutch, so I made a conscious choice to start playing for people long before I felt “ready.” I told my studio mates to ask me to play any excerpt, at any time, on any reed. (This led to some horrifying renditions of Figaro.) I asked everyone I could think of to hear me, and immediately set times so that my determination didn’t just evaporate into a series of “somedays.”

On a superficial level, I was forcing myself to run through excerpts in their entirety again and again. I was out of my comfort zone. I made mistakes and didn’t have the option of going back and correcting them; I was put through the most sadistic lists my friends could create (I’m looking at you, Joey); most of all, I was doing this in front of people whose opinions I respected.

But on a deeper level, I developed the ability to project positive feelings at the dreaded “committee,” because I was playing for people I knew and liked. I get much more nervous playing for people I know than for strangerseven if those strangers are on the other side of a screen, deciding my career trajectory. Especially in the early stages of my preparation, I fell flat on my face, but I learned that life went on. By repeatedly putting myself in these high-pressure situations, I learned what my real weaknesses were, as opposed to my imagined ones.

In retrospect, this was one of the key differences between how I prepared for previous auditions (which I wanted to win) and how I prepared for the Met audition (which I really, really wanted to win). It was hard, unpleasant, and ultimately invaluable, because it helped me get most of my “bad mojo” out before I ever arrived in New York. So, to my ever-patient friends who put me through my paces and taught me to appreciate the people on the other side of the screen: Thank you.