February 2015

William Henry Curry

Conductor, Composer

Leaders find inspiration in many places. Some are stirred by competition or social injustice or economic opportunity. For William Henry Curry, music is his motivation.

“Through music, we gain the power to inspire others,” he says.

Curry is the first African American to serve as resident conductor of the North Carolina Symphony. Now in his 19th season with the Symphony, he also serves as the artistic director for the Summerfest series and for all summer programs.

He was appointed the Music Director and Conductor of the Durham Symphony in 2009.

Each time he picks up his conductor’s baton his goal is to help his audience experience the emotions unlocked by music.

“I am extremely lucky to enable others to enter this world with me and experience a shared love for music,” says Curry. “It’s one thing to love something, but it’s far more beautiful if I can share it with someone.”

A viola player since childhood, Curry conducted his first performance at age 14 at the suggestion of his music teacher. Today, he is known world-wide, having conducted more than 40 orchestras across the U.S. and in Asia.

He is also a composer, placing him in the footsteps of one of his childhood heroes, the legendary conductor, composer and teacher Leonard Bernstein.

“Like Bernstein, I am intrigued by every aspect of music, not just conducting,” says Curry. “I see myself following in the same ideals.”

While the gap between classical and other musical genres has widened over the years, Curry believes in the ability of classical to overcome racial differences.

“After a period of embracing pride in our African American culture, how can we not come together and embrace the entire world,” he says. “Through music we create this harmony and embrace all cultures.

“Mozart is for everyone.”

Biography written by Carter B. Gregory