Rachmaninoff and Ragtime
On February 20, 2016, William McNally, piano, gave a wonderful performance of Rachmaninoff pieces and Ragtime music.
Pittsburgh native William McNally began his formal piano studies at age seven. Shortly after his ninth birthday, he performed for the first time in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall as a winner of the AMSA World Piano Competition, and has since returned often, including once in Stern Auditorium as principal bassist of the Mt. Lebanon H.S. Orchestra, again in Weill Hall in a solo piano recital as winner of the Artists International competition, and more recently in Zankel Hall as director of two opera-shorts presented by the Remarkable Theatre Brigade. Familiar to audiences around New York, he has also performed in Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Steinway Hall, Elebash Hall, LeFrak Hall, and other venues.
In 2013, Mr. McNally released a recording of works by Brahms, Reger and Busoni as part of the Victor Elmaleh Collection of piano recitals. Anthoni Tommasini of the New York Times has called his playing “exhilarating” “adventurous,” and “commanding,” and Rob Haskins of the American Record Guide lauds Mr. McNally’s “crystal-clear articulation and phrasing” and his “indefinable enthusiasm.”
A multifaceted musician, Mr. McNally has been widely recognized as a ragtime pianist and composer of numerous ragtime-styled works. He is the first three-time winner the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest’ New Rag Contest (winning it a fourth time as the performer of colleague Vincent Matthew Johnson’s composition …And So Fourth!), and has appeared at ragtime festivals around the country. A CD release (Chickens ‘n’ Kittens: a Ragtime Coup) follows his particular interest in modern and classically trained ragtime composers, including Bolcom and Godowsky. He has presented papers on the transatlantic voyages of ragtime at the Society for American Music 2014 Conference and at the International Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, MO.
In the spring of 2008, Mr. McNally inaugurated the Music4MS concert series, in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis. He produced, directed, performed on, and wrote program notes for the series, which featured some of the brightest rising stars on the classical scene. Since 2011 he has served as Artistic Director of the Music at St. Luke’s concert series in East Hampton, where he has presented such artists as the Verona and Amphion String Quartets, pianists Daria Rabotkina, Inna Faliks, and Gleb Ivanov, TenetNYC and tenor Robert White. Mr. McNally also currently serves as Secretary of the Musicians Club of New York, an organization founded more than a century ago by conductor Walter Damrosch, and sustained by conductor and composer Serge Koussevitsky.
Mr. McNally is a veteran of numerous summer festivals, including Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and Mannes’ International Keyboard Institute and Festival. In the summer of 2010, he received a fellowship to attend the Tanglewood Music Center. There, he collaborated on a premiere dance performance with the Mark Morris Dance Company, coached with musicians including Emanuel Ax, Peter Serkin, Dawn Upshaw and Oliver Knussen, and his performance of George Perle’s Concertino for Piano, Winds and Timpani was hailed as a “powerful performance” by the New York Times. Mr. McNally’s affiliation with Pianofest in the Hamptons spanned five seasons, where he served as Dean of Students. The roast chickens he produced there still garner raves.
Mr. McNally studied at the Mannes College of Music, receiving Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees in piano performance. Following Mannes, he received a second Masters degree from Temple University, this time with a double major in piano pedagogy and chamber music. There he studied piano with Harvey Wedeen and collaborative piano with Lambert Orkis. He has performed in the master classes of such artists as Sergei Babayan, Claude Frank, Paul Schenly, Peter Serkin, Arie Vardi and Earl Wild, to name a few.
Recently, Mr. McNally served as Adjunct Professor of Piano and Artist-in-Residence at Temple University and taught at Settlement Music School. In April of 2015 he completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree together with a Doctoral Certificate in American Studies at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center; there he studied with Ursula Oppens. His dissertation, Ragtime Then and Now: Composers and Audiences from the Ragtime Era to the Ragtime Revival, is currently being prepared for publication. He has served on the faculty at Queens College and Baruch College, and also worked at Queens College as a writing fellow.