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Winston Webber was born in Detroit, studied violin and conducting at the University of Michigan with the brilliant Cuban violinist Angel Reyes, and later in Toronto with Steven Staryk and Lorand Fenyves. In 1972 he joined the Toronto Symphony at the invitation of the late Karel Ancerl, becoming, at that time, the youngest member of the orchestra.
In 1978 he was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Peterborough Symphony and, in 1979, Music Director and Conductor of the Oshawa Symphony and the Chamber Players of Toronto. Mr. Webber studied conducting in New York from 1980 to 1982 with the Juilliard School’s Sixten Ehrling, at the Internationale Bachakademie in Stuttgart with Helmuth Rilling, and with the great Finnish maestro Jorma Panula in the NAC Conductors Programme in 2000 and 2001.
In 1981 Mr. Webber recorded Mozart’s Serenade in B-flat for winds, K. 361, with the Toronto Chamber Winds – the first recording using the 1979 New Mozart Edition published by Bärenreiter. The editor, Daniel Leeson, participated as second basset horn. The recording was named best chamber music album of the year by Music Magazine and was nominated for a Juno Award for best classical recording of the year.
Before coming to Ottawa in 1985, Mr. Webber spent two years as a pre-medical student at the University of Toronto, in 1984 receiving a research fellowship at the Ludwig Institute of the Princess Margaret Hospital and co-authoring, with Dr. Norman Boyd, an article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. He joined the NAC Orchestra just in time for the 1985 tour to Japan with Franco Mannino. In addition to his work with the Orchestra, he has been, since 1999, music director and conductor of the Viennese Winter Ball at the National Gallery of Canada and, since 1994, of the NAC Orchestra musicians’ highly successful Christmas FanFair fundraising concerts, for which he also does most of the musical arrangements. More recently he has recorded with the popular Ottawa chamber orchestra Thirteen Strings and, in 2006, opened the Thirteen Strings subscription season.
His non-musical interests have included large-format photography, soaring with the Erin Soaring Society near Orangeville, until their airstrip was bought by a gravel company, sailing on the Ottawa River and, more recently, running “at least until the knees give out.” His repertoire of boats over the years has ranged from a 15-foot Albacore to a 30-foot Alberg, which he sailed continuously, except when working on the plumbing. In a previous boat, an Alberg 22, he won first in class in the 1995 single-handed race at the Nepean Sailing Club and decided to quit racing while he was ahead and the boat was still in one piece. Mr. Webber became a Canadian citizen in 2004.