William Joseph Scribner
March 11, 1939 – September 16, 2016
Born in Pontiac, Michigan, Bill graduated from the University of Michigan School of Music with a B. Music in Music Education, where his bassoon instructor was Hugh Cooper, then in the Detroit Symphony. He was a member of the UM Symphony Band which made an historic tour in 1961 of the USSR, Middle East and Eastern Europe. Upon coming to New York, Bill did postgraduate work at the Manhattan School of Music and New York University, continuing bassoon studies with Stephen Maxym (Met Opera Orchestra).
As one of New York’s most accomplished and sought-after freelance bassoonists, Bill performed as Principal with the American Symphony, Long Island Philharmonic, Brooklyn Philharmonic, New Jersey State Opera Orchestra and for many summers in the Chautauqua Symphony. He also played with the New York Philharmonic, Met Opera Orchestra and in Broadway productions, and in 1964 toured Europe with the Pittsburgh Symphony as Associate Principal. As a chamber musician he was a member of the Phoenix Wind Quintet, Leonia Chamber Players and Philharmonia Quintet, and attended the Allegheny and Marlboro Music Festivals. Additionally Bill was Principal bassoonist in the orchestras for national tours of the Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet companies. Faculty positions included University of Connecticut at Storrs, Queens College, Rutgers University at Newark and Bloomingdale School of Music.
As Founder of the Bronx Arts Ensemble in 1972, Bill quickly answered the need for fully professional performances for Bronx audiences at free or low cost admission, and BAE became the first music group in the borough with a Local 802, AFM contract, drawing on the city’s finest musicians for its concerts. As the preeminent performance ensemble in the Bronx the BAE became notable for commissioning new works by both local and nationally known composers, and committing these pieces to an impressive CD list recorded by the Ensemble. World premieres by the BAE included works by Morton Gould, Roberto Sierra, Meyer Kupferman, Max Lifchitz and many others, as well as rarely-heard music by Joseph Rheinberger, Louise Farrenc, Heinrich Hofmann and Max Bruch. In 1979 the Ensemble established an enduring Residency at Fordham University comprising chamber music, free summer programs for campus and community and annual Christmas and Spring concerts with University choruses.
In the early 1980s Bill starting building one of New York’s most acclaimed school arts-in-education programs, which now employs teachers in over 40 schools, instructing K to 12th grades in music, visual arts, dance, theatre, music theatre, electronic media, capoeira and African and Latin drumming and more. The BAE is currently a founding arts partner in the recently-opened Rosalyn Yalow Charter School in the South Bronx. Bill’s passion, unparalleled energy and influence in the field of arts education continues as a vital testament to his lifelong joy in music and commitment to sharing the arts with our future audiences.
Bill was a member of the Hostos College (CUNY) Advisory Board and the Board of Bronx Council on the Arts, and he made a number of highly praised arrangements for wind quintet for International Opus.
The BAE Board, staff, musicians and teaching artists will long love and revere our beloved Founder and colleague!