photos by Judy Eckart and Lara Webber at the LAS rehearsal on 11/15/22
H. Robert Williams (“Bob” to LAS) began his association with the Livermore-Amador Symphony as a horn player in 1972 when he moved to California, and he continued playing with LAS for fifty years. Until the end of the 2013–2014 season, Williams also served as the assistant conductor of the Symphony.
Williams was conductor of the LAS pit orchestra that performed at many of the semiannual shows presented by the Valley Dance Theatre, especially at its yearly multiple performances of The Nutcracker. Now the Valley Dance Theatre’s own pit orchestra has taken over: Its debut was at the “Spring Rep” shows in 2014. Who was the conductor? Yes, of course: Bob Williams!
In the summer of 2022, without any fanfare whatsoever (as usual for him), Bob Williams retired from the LAS orchestra. At rehearsal on November 15, a day after his 90th birthday, orchestra members celebrated Bob’s many contributions to LAS. The Symphony Guild provided cookies and waters for the special occasion, and Bob told the orchestra that it was the best rehearsal he’d ever been to, because all he had to do was listen; no need to count measures or play or conduct. His wit, memory, and speaking skills seemingly untouched by age, he told about his early days in LAS, including an “audition” which involved playing next to horn player Helene Barnes during a rehearsal and her telling him afterwards, “You're in.”
Also affiliated with the Pleasanton Community Concert Band since 1975, Williams has been its conductor for more than 35 years. For his work with the Band, Williams was named the 2013 Tri-Valley Hero in Arts and Culture by the East Bay Division of the Embarcadero Media Group.
Williams retired from 22 years of public school music teaching and a second (18-year) career in nuclear materials study with General Electric at Vallecitos.
He is a graduate of West Chester University (Pennsylvania) and the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester (New York). In 2013, UR featured Williams, a charter member of the George Eastman Circle of donors, in fundraising appeals to alumni which included several pictures taken by a “local photographer who followed me around Pleasanton for a morning.” In 2015, Bob gave the Horn Studio at Eastman many musical gifts (see a Thank You, Mr. Williams! web page), among them a Kruspe double horn, a Tibetan horn, and a didgeridoo. And the H. Robert Williams Horn Scholarship at the Eastman School of Music, a George Eastman Circle Scholarship, is fully endowed in perpetuity.
(updated Dec. 2022)
© Livermore-Amador Symphony Association