- The Washington Times - Monday, November 15, 2004

William Yarborough, 80, orchestra conductor

William Yarborough, a noted symphony conductor, died Nov. 4 at his home in Madison, Wis., after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease and, more recently, with cancer. He was 80.

He had retired to Wisconsin after living at the Towers Condominium on Cathedral Avenue NW for 31 years.

Mr. Yarborough was born in Wilmington, N.C. He received a bachelor’s degree from the Chicago Musical College and a master’s degree from Indiana University’s School of Music.

He began his career in music as a concert violinist, appearing on stages throughout Europe and the United States from age 8. At 19, he was appointed music director of the American Symphony Orchestra in Paris. He was a guest conductor with many of the major symphonies of Europe and the United States, including the Royal Philharmonic in London, the Vienna Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Symphony and the George Enescu State Philharmonic in Bucharest, Romania.

As music director of the Richmond Philharmonic, he brought melodies to millions of listeners on Sunday evenings with broadcasts on CBS Radio.

Mr. Yarborough was founder, music director and conductor of the American Chamber Orchestra in Washington, with which he had a 16-year association.

“The American Chamber Orchestra, composed of members of the National Symphony Orchestra, is one of Washington’s most treasured possessions,” wrote a music critic in The Washington Times. The orchestra performed at the Anderson House ballroom on Massachusetts Avenue NW, the Society of the Cincinnati national headquarters on Embassy Row and in the National Academy of Sciences auditorium before moving to the Kennedy Center from 1984 to 1994.

Mr. Yarborough’s early violin studies were under the guidance of Frank Gittleson, the noted Russian violinist, and composition with Nadia Boulanger at the Peabody Conservatory and conducting studies at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood) under Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Ruth.

A private “Celebration of Life” will be held in Madison.

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