William McMullen, professor of oboe at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, is principal oboe with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra and oboist in the Moran Woodwind Quintet. He has appeared as soloist with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra and the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra in performances of the Strauss, Mozart and Vaughan-Williams concertos.
What inspires you now, musically or otherwise?
Life – in all its variety. That is inspiring to me.
What or who were your early passions and influences?
Very early on I was inspired by simple tunes from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. As I got older, of course, I discovered Bach, Mozart and Handel. Those really are my strongest influences – but there are so very many other influences of course.
Which composers do you think have written music that best suit oboe's unique character?
I don’t think you really can answer that question. The oboe has so many different possible characters.
What are the main differences between playing the oboe in an orchestra and in a quintet?
Of course with an orchestra you sometimes play a musical line that is doubled by someone else – the violins or flutes, for example. In a quintet that usually does not happen so you are always on your own.
How would you describe your relationship with your reeds?
The only healthy relationship is one of constant discovery and imagination. You have to continually find a new approach each day to solving musical problems by making even better reeds more quickly.
What would you say are most important approaches in introducing beginners to learning the oboe?
Make sure they know what a good sound on the oboe really is – work on tone and make sure you play along with them so they hear good tone production.
McMullen is a frequent recitalist throughout the United States with pianist, Catherine Herbener, and has performed at IDRS conventions in Utah, Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin, Miami University (Ohio), New York City, the Netherlands, Australia and Banff, Canada. His book on English horn repertoire, "Soloistic English Horn Literature (1736-1984)" was published in 1994 by Pendragon Press. His CD “Twentieth-Century British Music for Oboe and Piano” with Catherine Herbener was released in 2002 by Crystal Records and includes works by Bennett, Howells, Jacob, Berkeley and Rubbra. "Duos for Flute and Oboe” a CD with flutist Claudia Anderson, was released in 2005 by Centaur Records, and includes duets by Jacob, Migot, Ginastera, Bozza, Muczynski, Musgrave and Serebrier. As a member of the Moran Woodwind Quintet McMullen has toured extensively throughout the Midwest and in 1992 the quintet was nominated for NPR’s Lucian Wulsin Award for Best Regional Performance, Small Ensemble. The quintet has recorded four CD’s on Crystal Records; a collection of contemporary quintet music titled “Postcards From the Center” and three CD’s of the complete quintet repertoire of German composer Theodor Blumer.
McMullen has been on the faculty of the UNL Chamber Music Institute (CMI) for the past four summers, was on the faculty of Rocky Ridge Music Center summer music festival in Estes Park, Colorado for 23 summers, was on the faculty of Point Counter Point Chamber Music Camp in Vermont for 5 summers and was on the faculty of Merrywood Music Camp in Massachusetts for 3 summers. He received his D.M.A. and M.M. degrees from The Juilliard School as a student of Thomas Stacy and B.M.E degree from Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music as a student of Galan Kral.