Meet the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra Leaders

Sarah Olbert

Dr. William James McClain

Conductor

Conductor and violist Dr. William James McClain has appeared in major venues across the United States and abroad, including Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Sheremetev Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He has conducted professional, community, and youth orchestras for over twenty years.

In the spring of 2006, he conducted Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite with the Macon Symphony Orchestra in Georgia as the 2005 winner of the International Conductors Workshop and Festival Competition. Since then, he has been awarded that distinction again and invited back to lead the Macon Symphony as a guest conductor. Dr. McClain was also honored by the International Academy of Advanced Conducting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where he conducted the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic’s Congress Orchestra.

Dr. McClain has appeared as guest conductor with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, and the Onondaga Civic Orchestra in upstate New York.

As a violist, William McClain has recorded with the Adriane String Quartet and maintains an active chamber music and solo recital schedule, most recently appearing on “The Night of Chamber Music,” part of the Guest Artist Series at Georgia Military College, and on the Guest Artist Chamber Music Recital Series at Birmingham-Southern College. He currently performs with the Augusta Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and the Savannah Philharmonic in Georgia.

A former member of the Syracuse Symphony and the Tri-Cities Opera Orchestra, McClain has also performed with the Bakersfield Symphony, Austin Symphony, and Macon Symphony. He has served as principal violist for the Allentown Symphony, the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, Orchestra Noir in Atlanta, and at the 2016 Colour of Music Festival held in Charleston, SC.

Dr. McClain has taught undergraduate viola at Ithaca College and the University of Maryland at College Park as a graduate assistant. He also taught viola and violin at Huston Tillotson College and Mercer University. Dr. McClain is a former faculty member at Phillips Exeter Academy, where he was named the John and Elizabeth Phillips Fellow. While at the Academy, he was director of the chamber music program, conducted the Exeter Symphony Orchestra, founded the Exeter Symphonia, and taught in the music theory program.

A native of Washington D.C., William McClain is currently an Assistant Professor of Music, Director of Orchestra, and Coordinator of Strings at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, GA. Dr. McClain received degrees in conducting and viola performance from the University of Maryland at College Park, Ithaca College, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Aaron Jacobs

Dr. Aaron M. Jacobs

Concertmaster

Aaron Jacobs’ teaching blends influences from the works of Shin’ichi Suzuki, Paul Rolland, Mimi Zweig, Ivan Galamian, and traditional methods.

With 19 years of teaching experience among all age and ability levels, he has taught at universities, academies, music schools, and summer camps throughout Ohio, Maine, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Currently, he mentors a full studio of 30+ violinists and violists, and a staff of 15+ graduate and post-doctoral instructors through the School of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he founded the Illinois String Academy as part of the School of Music’s public engagement offerings.

At UIUC he is also Co-Director of The Paul Rolland String Pedagogy Workshop for professional musicians and teachers, and Director of “Young Strings on the Move!” – The Paul Rolland String Camp, for children ages 5-12.

At Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, Aaron is on the faculty in violin and string pedagogy for University string majors. He also created a violin program for Danville, IL school district 118, which offers violin instruction to nearly 200 first and second-grade students at two elementary schools in Danville, IL. Aaron’s private students consistently win top honors and receive numerous performance awards each year, including solo concerto performances with orchestras as well as admission and scholarship offers to prestigious collegiate music institutions.

As a performer, Aaron is in high demand as a soloist and chamber and orchestra musician throughout Illinois. During the past seven years, he has performed as concertmaster or principal second violin for eleven different orchestras in Central Illinois. As an active chamber and solo recitalist, Aaron has performed throughout the United States and Europe, and has been the featured soloist for orchestras in Ohio and Illinois.

He has also been the recipient of several honors and awards, and a prizewinner at international competitions. In duo with his wife and pianist, Tatiana Shustova, performances of recent years have ranged from concert halls in the Midwest and East Coast to Italy and Russia. Tatiana and Aaron currently reside in Urbana, IL, with their two sons, Pavel and Mikhail.

 

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David Cook