Fergus McWilliam

Born in Inverness, Schottland

Member since 1985-09-01


Personnel Committee (since 1989; chairman: 1992-96 and again since 2000); orchestra representative on the Board of Trustees (since 2002); member of the Board of Directors of the Berliner Philharmonie GmbH

»I don’t know any other orchestra that risks so much yet also succeeds as much. After 30 years I’m still pinching myself during almost every concert. Am I only dreaming? Making music with my colleagues in incredibly exciting, challenging and fulfilling. Every concert is an adventure, an attempt to push the envelope. No compromises. Everything’s at stake.«

As a very young child, Fergus McWilliam went to an Edinburgh Festival symphony concert with his mother and was so taken with the horns that he decided on the spot to become a horn player himself. As a newspaper delivery boy he earned the money for his first instrument and first lessons. He studied in Canada with John Simonelli, Fred Rizner and Eugene Rittich; in Amsterdam with Adriaan van Woudenberg; and in Stockholm with Wilhelm Lanzky-Otto. He was only 15 when he made his solo debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa.

From 1975 to 1979 he was principal horn of Orchestra London and performed with several other Canadian orchestras and chamber ensembles. In 1979 he became a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 1982 he joined the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and three years later the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 1988 he and his colleagues founded the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet. He also belongs to the Berlin Philharmonic Winds. McWilliam teaches at several famous international music schools including the Orchestra Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker. and is the author of the acclaimed pedagogical book Blow Your OWN Horn. A true Scottish Highlander, he is always happy to return to his roots in his home village on Loch Ness, and has introduced many of his orchestra colleagues to the joys of single malt Scotch whisky.