Annual Gala Special Guests
Our Special Guests
Clarinetist Anthony McGill is one of classical music’s most recognizable and brilliantly multifaceted figures. He serves as the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic — that orchestra’s first African-American principal player — and maintains a dynamic international solo and chamber music career. Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (The New York Times), as well as for his “exquisite combination of technical refinement and expressive radiance” (The Baltimore Sun), McGill also serves as an ardent advocate for helping music education reach underserved communities and for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music. He 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.
McGill’s 2019-20 season includes the premiere of a new work by Tyshawn Sorey at the 92Y, and a special collaboration with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato at Carnegie Hall. He will be a featured soloist at the Kennedy Center performing the Copland concerto at the SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras with the Jacksonville Symphony, and will also perform concertos by Copland, Mozart, and Danielpour with the Richmond, Delaware, Alabama, Reno, and San Antonio Symphonies. Additional collaborations include programs with Gloria Chien, Demarre McGill, Michael McHale, Anna Polonsky, Arnaud Sussman, and the Pacifica Quartet.
McGill appears regularly as a soloist with top orchestras around North America including the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Baltimore Symphony, 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, Takacs, and Tokyo Quartets, as well as Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Gloria Chien, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang. He has led tours 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, Music@Menlo, and the Santa Fe, Seattle, and Skaneateles Chamber Music Festivals.
In January 2015, McGill recorded the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto together with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, which was released on DaCapo Records. He also recorded an album together with his brother Demarre McGill, principal flute of the Seattle Symphony, and pianist Michael McHale; and one featuring the Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Pacifica Quartet that were both released by Cedille Records.
A dedicated champion of new music, in 2014, McGill premiered a new piece written for him by Richard Danielpour entitled “From the Mountaintop” that was commissioned by the New Jersey Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, and Orchestra 2001. McGill served as the 2015-16 Artist-in-Residence for WQXR and has appeared on Performance Today, MPR’s St. Paul Sunday Morning, and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. In 2013, McGill appeared on the NBC Nightly News and on MSNBC, in stories highlighting the McGill brothers’ inspirational story.
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. In-demand as a teacher, he serves on the faculty of the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Bard College’s Conservatory of Music. He also serves as the Artistic Advisor for the Music Advancement Program at the Juilliard School, on the Board of Directors for both the League of American Orchestra and the Harmony Program, and the advisory council for the InterSchool Orchestras of New York.
NBC News Correspondent
Harry Smith is an NBC News correspondent who came to NBC News as a correspondent for “Rock Center” with Brian Williams in July 2011.
One of television’s most distinguished journalists, Smith has been a news anchor for more than 30 years. Before joining NBC News, he hosted the CBS News morning shows “The Early Show” and its predecessor “CBS This Morning” for 17 years.
Smith served as a senior correspondent for CBS News and substitute anchors for the “CBS Evening News”, “Face the Nation” and “CBS News Sunday Morning.” He also hosted the A&E series “Biography.”
Smith has interviewed a who’s who of world leaders from Barack Obama to Margaret Thatcher. He’s reported from the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War and the war in Bosnia. Smith reported live from Tahrir Square the night Hosni Mubarak fell from power. He covered the revolution in Libya. Smith has also reported from disaster zones in the United States as well as Japan, Sri Lanka, Haiti and the Philippines. Smith has won several Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award, as well as numerous other honors.
He is a proud graduate of Central College in Pella, Iowa. He is married to the remarkable Andrea Joyce, a sports reporter.