William Dowdall, born in Dublin in 1951, one of Ireland's leading musicians, combines a busy career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher.
He studied 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 performed with the RTÉ Vanbrugh and Parisii string quartets.
Solo performances have taken him around Europe, and to the USA, China, and New Zealand. His work has been broadcast extensively by the Irish public national broadcaster, RTÉ, and he has also been 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 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, toured with it around Ireland in 2006, and performed it again with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland in January 2009.
Within the space of two years alone he has given eight 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. In 2006 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.
He plays on gold and platinum flutes by Brannen, a wooden flute by Abell and a Louis Lot dated 1891.
most winning in tone and musicality
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."
Dowdall is a resourceful musician who
seems incapable of uttering a phrase or a note that
is not carried and shaped with especial care
"...His fine tone, rock-steady pitch, brilliant
technique and flowing musicality combined to demonstrate
what a superb performer he is...."
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
William Dowdall, a consummate artist
who fully expresses the depth and breadth of Buckley's
"William Dowdall's flute-playing, now tense
and forceful, now beautifully limpid, felt always