William Dowdall

Research Associate

William Dowdall

Music Programme
School of Arts

William Dowdall, one of Ireland’s leading musicians, combines a busy career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. Born in Dublin, he trained in Cleveland, Ohio, where his teachers included Maurice Sharp of the Cleveland Orchestra, and his interest in new music was sparked by Donald Erb, composer in residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music. On returning to Ireland at the age of 21 he was appointed principal flute of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. From 1979 to 2004 he was principal flute of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed professor of flute at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 2004.

He has given over 50 solo performances with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and Irish Chamber Orchestra, and has appeared at all the major festivals in Ireland. He has been a member of the Daedalus Wind Quintet, Ulysses Ensemble, and the Ulysses Wind Quintet which was a prize-winner in the Colmar International Chamber Music Competition in 1980. As a chamber musician he has also guested with the RTÉ Vanbrugh and Parisii string quartets and has partnered with pianist John O’Conor.

Solo performances abroad have taken him around Europe, and to the USA, China, and New Zealand. His work has been broadcast extensively by the Irish public service broadcaster, RTÉ, and he has also broadcast on BBC radio and television, Australian Television, and Shanghai Radio.

In addition to a wide ranging repertoire, his interest in contemporary music led him to develop a workshop based on contemporary solo flute music by Irish composers, which has been presented in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand to considerable acclaim. He has introduced Irish audiences to new works from the international repertoire, and has actively promoted the music of Irish composers abroad. Many Irish composers have written works for him and he premiered a new work by John Buckley for flute and orchestra with the RTÉ NSO in a six concert tour in November 2006.

In the last year alone he has given four world premieres of works by Irish composers and has espoused the flute music of composers such as Bernstein, Boulez, Takemitsu, Henze, Varèse, and Maxwell Davies in Ireland. He recently gave the Irish premiere of Takemitsu's “I Can Hear the Water Dreaming” with the RTÉ NSO.

As a solo artist he has made critically-acclaimed recordings for Goasco, Naxos, Marco Polo, Black Box, and Celestial Harmonies labels.

William Dowdall plays on gold and platinum flutes by Brannen, a wooden flute by Abell, and an alto flute by Eva Kingma.

"...most winning in tone and musicality..." The Times (London)

"...His fine tone, rock-steady pitch, brilliant technique and flowing musicality combined to demonstrate what a superb performer he is...." Sunday Tribune

"...Infectiously spirited flute playing was the hallmark of this recital, in which scarcely a note, nor a phrase ending, was out of place..." Irish Times

"...William Dowdall, the soloist in Nielsen's Flute Concerto, gave a beautifully expressive and finely finished performance, notable for sensitive phrasing and sustained purity of tone..." Irish Independent

"...Varese's "Density 21.5" for solo flute, now over half a century old, is always a pleasure to encounter, especially in as persuasive a performance as it was given by William Dowdall..." Irish Times

"...liquidly brilliant flute-playing..." Irish Times

“....Dowdall is a resourceful musician who seems incapable of uttering a phrase or a note that is not carried and shaped with especial care....” Irish Times

“…..Outstanding….” Gramophone Magazine

“…ravishing in the songful melodies and tossing off the showier passages with great panache, I fear Mr. James Galway will have to look to his laurels.” American Record Guide 2002

“....Dowdall sustained a clear melodic line through the first movement’s increasing complexity.....” Irish Times 2004

“ for solo flute splendidly performed by William Dowdall....” Sunday Tribune 2005

“....William Dowdall, a consummate artist who fully expresses the depth and breadth of Buckley’s music...” Pan Magazine British Flute Society 2005

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