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Robert Williams has been the Principal Bassoonist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since 1974. He also plays in the Cut Time Players, the Neo-Bubonic Bassoon Quartet, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Bassoon Quartet, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Woodwind Quartet, and the Grand Teton Music Festival.
Robert was born in Tucson, Arizona. When in the eighth grade at the age of thirteen, he was frustrated with playing the clarinet and decided to switch to the bassoon. He has been playing it ever since. While in high school, Robert was taught by Wendel Jones.
Robert graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Music degree in Bassoon Performance from the University of Arizona. He also went to graduate school at the University of Southern California and has attended the Aspen Music School in Colorado and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. He was taught by Leonard Sharrow at the Aspen Music School and by Norman Herzberg at USC.
Robert had his first job when he was still at the University of Arizona. He was the Principal Bassoonist of the Tucson Symphony. After college he played in the Colorado Philharmonic Orchestra during the summers. He then went on to play with the Winnepeg Symphony and Winnepeg CBC Orchestra in Canada.
Robert has been on the faculties of the Aspen Music School and Festival, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, the Grand Tetons Orchestra Training Institute, the Claremont Music Festival, and the Utah Music Festival. He has presented master classes at Tanglewood, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the University of Arizona.
Robert has been a featured guest artist at the University of Nebraska, Bowling Green State University, Arizona State University's "Bassoon Days," Fresno State University's "Double Reed Days," and the Glickman-Popkin Double Reed Camp. He also played a joint recital with the Principal Oboist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Don Baker, at the International Double Reed Society conference in 1998.
Williams is on all of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra recordings that are conducted by former Music Director Antal Dorati. This includes the award winning Rite of Spring. He is also on the Chandos recordings that are led by Neeme Jarvi. The Neo-Bubonic Bassoon Quartet also released a recording through Fox Products in 2003. Currently, he is working on a new recording of the works of Julius Weissenborn for bassoon and piano.
In his free time, Robert enjoys fly fishing and tying flies, mountain biking, and has his pilot's license, though he doesn't fly much anymore. He and his wife run their reed company, Womble-Williams Double Reeds, from their home. He also is a Fox Products dealer and sells bassoon cane. His wife, Treva Womble, is also a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, where she plays oboe and English horn. They have one son, Trevor. Robert's favorite composers include Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Shostakovich. His advice to aspiring bassoonists is to practice and study with the best teachers, no matter what the expense.