Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (New York Times), clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. In addition to his dynamic international solo and chamber music career, McGill is principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic—the first African-American principal player in the organization’s history. In 2020, he was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize, one of classical music’s most significant awards given in recognition of soloists who represent the highest level of musical excellence.
McGill was honored to take part in the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by John Williams and performing alongside violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and pianist Gabriela Montero. He is a dedicated champion of new music: during the 2021/22 season, McGill performs “You Have the Right to Remain Silent” by Pulitzer prize winning composer Anthony Davis; “Peace,” by Jessie Montgomery; “Ad Anah?” by James Lee III; a new work from Benjamin J. Shirley; “Book of Days,” by Daron Hagen; and “From The Mountaintop,” written for McGill by Richard Danielpour.
McGill appears regularly as a soloist with top orchestras around North America, including the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Kansas City Symphony. As a chamber musician, McGill is a favorite collaborator of the Brentano, Daedalus, Guarneri, JACK, Miró, Pacifica, Shanghai, Takács, and Tokyo Quartets, as well as Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Gloria Chien, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang. He has toured with Musicians from Marlboro and regularly performs for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. Festival appearances include Tanglewood, Marlboro, Mainly Mozart, and Skaneateles, and the Music@Menlo, Santa Fe, and Seattle Chamber Music Festivals.
A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, McGill previously served as the principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera and associate principal clarinet of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
He serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music, where he holds the William R. and Hyunah Yu Brody Distinguished Chair. He is the Artistic Director for Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program, a weekend program dedicated to students who demonstrate a commitment to artistic excellence, which actively seeks young musicians from backgrounds underrepresented in classical music.
McGill recorded the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic. He and his brother, Demarre McGill, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s principal flutist, joined the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras with conductor Allen Tinkham, to record Winged Creatures, an album of works for flute, clarinet, and orchestra including world-premiere recordings of duo concertos like the title track by African-American composer Michael Abels (Cedille Records). His Portraits, recorded with Demarre McGill and pianist Michael McHale, and Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets, with the Pacifica Quartet, were also released on Cedille Records. In November 2021, Anthony and pianist Gloria Chien released Here With You, an album featuring works by Brahms, Weber, and Montgomery, which the longtime friends and frequent recital collaborators consider to be the most beautiful of all the works they perform (Cedille Records).
McGill has been covered in the New York Times and the New Yorker and has appeared on National Public Radio, Performance Today, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He has served as the Artist-in-Residence for WQXR.
In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, McGill launched a powerful musical protest video urging people to #TakeTwoKnees in demonstration against the death of George Floyd and historic racial injustice. His video went viral and hundreds of artists and citizens amplified the message and responded to the protest with their own videos using the hashtag #TakeTwoKnees.
McGill is an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. In 2020, in concert with a $30,000 charitable gift from the Avery Fisher Artist Program designated to a charity of McGill’s choice, McGill and Weston Sprott, Dean of the Preparatory Division of The Juilliard School, established the Weston Sprott and Anthony McGill MAP Summer Scholarship Fund so MAP students can take part in summer programs and festivals. In December 2021 The Juilliard School announced a permanent endowment grant of $50 million for its Music Advancement Program (MAP) from Crankstart, which will fund full-tuition scholarships for all MAP students and program expansion.
McGill serves on the board of directors for Cedille Records and the Harmony Program, and on the advisory councils for the InterSchool Orchestras of New York and Time In Children’s Arts Initiative. He is a Vandoren Artist and Buffet Crampon Artist.