I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Averil Williams. The loss of those we cherish becomes ever more familiar with the passage of time but such losses never become easier to endure. Averil Williams was an important person in the flute world and in my life as well. I would like to say a few words about her from my vantage point. A remarkably wonderful event took place in my life twenty eight years ago. I had the great fortune to find myself in conversation with Peter Lloyd about an idea that was beginning to form in my mind at the time. I was toying with the idea of departing from my established career as a woodwind doubler in favour of developing an exclusive focus on classical flute playing. The idea of giving up both the saxophone and clarinet which had been my primary source of employment for well over twenty years was quite terrifying. I was just shy of my 39th birthday and change was in the wind. To get on with such a transition there was a possibility that I might be able to spend an entire year as a student in the UK. Peter Lloyd was remarkably helpful. He had many suggestions for me but the one he favored most was to study with Averil Williams at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. I took Peter's comments very seriously and proceeded with appropriate applications. By the fall of the following year I found myself attending my first flute lesson with Averil Williams at the Guildhall. Averil proved to be exactly the teacher that I needed to help me through that complicated transition. After a year of extraordinary lessons with her and about a million hours of practice, my flute playing had transformed entirely. Averil's deep knowledge, unwavering caring, and well trained psychological insight provided me with exactly what I needed to tackle that desired career change. I left London after that glorious year armed with enough newly gained confidence and skill to keep things moving positively ahead. Over the next several years I returned to London from time to time for further lessons with Averil. Our teacher/student relationship gradually deepened into a valued friendship. Over the years I have come to know that I was merely one of a huge number of flute students who respected, admired, and loved Averil Williams. She spent 50 years teaching flute at the Guildhall. An enormous number of her former students have and continue to enjoy wonderfully successful careers as flute players and teachers around the world. Averil's performance career included principal flute of the Iceland Symphony, performances and recordings with the LPO & BBC orchestras under conductors the likes of Boulez, Solti, Tennstedt, Haitink, & Rattle, member & soloist of the London Bach Orchestra, performances with the London Sinfonietta & Nash Ensemble. Averil played flute in the original cast of Jesus Christ Superstar and played in the soundtrack for the 1967 movie "Far From The Madding Crowd" along with James Galway, and William Bennett. Averil was made a Fellow of the Guildhall School in 1995. Over the past few years I didn't have the opportunity to speak with Averil nearly as much as I would have liked. Great distance tends to complicate direct conversation but we did share letters and emails frequently. I was always delighted to hear about events in her life and remarkably surprised and pleased that she seemed to be equally interested in knowing about various events in my life. Averil was my teacher, my mentor, and my friend. I shall miss her dearly.
Averil Williams... A Tribute March 2018
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