“I picked up the saxophone, and it was bigger than me. So they were like ‘Maybe you should play the clarinet.’”
By his own account, Anthony McGill's elementary school introduction to his instrument was far from deliberate. The younger of two sons born in the Chicago South Side neighborhood of Chatham, Anthony has established himself as one of the leading classical clarinetists in the world. In 2009, he performed at the first presidential inauguration of Barack Obama with a superstar lineup: violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
As the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic since 2014, he is not only one of the only African-American principal musicians of an American orchestra — a dubious honor also held by his older brother Demarre, who is principal flute at the Dallas Symphony — he is the first African-American principal musician in NY Phil history.
This Friday at 7:00 pm CT, WFMT will present a free livestreamed recital featuring Anthony McGill and pianist Anna Polonsky celebrating the diversity of the Americas, featuring music of Florence Price, Carlos Guastavino, Bernstein, and contemporary African-American composer James Lee III.
“Doors” will open at 6:30 pm, and Anthony McGill will join UChicago professor of American and African American History Thomas Holt in a pre-concert talk beginning at 6:35 pm. See the recital below, or join us on our Facebook page. WFMT is proud to share this performance with our partners including UChicago Presents, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, Chamber Music Tulsa, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, and Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture and the University of Chicago.