For millions of music fans, the intimate voice of Bill McGlaughlin signals another adventure into the heart of music-making. Bill McGlaughlin's introduction to music came late; he was fourteen before he took his first piano lessons. "Happily, I understood immediately what a wonderful thing I'd stumbled into. I can remember thinking as I walked away from my second piano lesson — 'Well, that's it. I'll be a musician.' Of course, I had no idea what that decision meant exactly.'"
Over the years, McGlaughlin was to discover that 'being a musician' could embrace a great many paths. He has served as an educator, as a performer — a trombonist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony, and as a conductor — seven years as Associate Conductor with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, followed by periods as music director of orchestras in Eugene, Tucson and San Francisco, and most recently, a twelve year engagement as Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony. He has also been active as a guest conductor, leading the Baltimore Symphony, Denver Symphony, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, New Orleans Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Opera Theatre St. Louis, American Music Theater Festival and San Antonio Festival.
McGlaughlin has also been active in broadcasting, serving as host of the popular public radio program St. Paul Sunday since its inception in 1980. In 1996 the program received the highest honor in broadcasting, the George Foster Peabody Award. McGlaughlin has also been active with PBS, the BBC and is now in his eighth season as co-host of the chamber music program Center Stage From Wolftrap. In November 2002, the NEA announced a special grant to the WFMT Radio Network to fund the development of a new daily program: Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin, which began syndication on October 6, 2003. McGlaughlin has also also contributed a number of features to Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, including programs on Debussy, Stravinsky and a recent interview with James Levine on the opera Wozzeck.
It was not until 1997 that McGlaughlin made a public debut as a composer. His Three Dreams and a Question: Choral Songs on E. E. Cummings — a work dedicated to memory of the young composer and pianist Kevin Oldham — was enthusiastically received by audience, performers and press at its premiere with the Kansas City Symphony and was quickly followed by five more premieres within a ten month span. Aaron's Horizons, a work dedicated to the spirit of Aaron Copland, with whom McGlaughin worked in the 1970s, has been heard nation wide in a broadcast with members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
In the summer of 1998 McGlaughlin signed a contract with Subito Music, which now publishes all of his work. His recent works include Walt Whitman's Dream, for large chorus and orchestra, a work commissioned by Continental Harmony, a Millennium project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Composers Forum. He has also composed a piece in collaboration with Garrison Keillor, Surveying Lake Wobegon, which had its premiere at the Ravinia Festival on September 3, 2000 and continues to be played by orchestras from coast to coast. In addition, he contributed a piece for a 'quartet of neglected instruments' for the December 23, 2000 Prairie Home Companion broadcast from Town Hall in New York. Angelus, composed in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Minneapolis Civic Orchestra, had its premiere on March 17, 2002. Three Pieces for Wind Trio was given its first performance at the Kemper Museum in Kansas City on June 1, 2002.
McGlaughlin served as guest composer in residence at The Chamber Music Festival of the East in Bennington, Vermont in the summer of 2003 and composed two pieces which received their premieres at the Festival — Echoes, for horn trio and Three by Six for chamber ensemble. In October of 2003 McGlaughlin led the Tucson Symphony in the premiere of The Bells of St. Ferdinand. In October 2005 the Las Cruces Symphony played the premiere of Remembering Icarus, a performance which has subsequently been broadcast on NPR's Performance Today.