Bill McMurray

Baritone

Biography

With more than forty operatic roles to his credit, baritone Bill McMurray has been described as “a baritone with warm, rich tones and superb stage presence” by the Durham Herald Sun. Such roles includeFigaro” in Il Baribiere di Sivigila, “Count Almavivain Le nozze di Figaro and “Escamillo” in Carmen. Walter Marini of the New Buffalo Times is quoted as saying his portrayal of “Marcello” in Puccini’s La Boheme is “a powerful actor who brings great elegance to the role. His singing is as fine as anything being heard in major opera houses today.”

Though the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of many of his engagements Bill was still able to sing his first baritone solo in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Northwest Indiana Symphony. He was also able to record two streaming concerts with conductor Kirk Muspratt and the New Philharmonic Orchestra.

For the 2018-19 season he performed his first major Russian role as “Ibn Hakia” in Tchaikovsky’s opera Iolanta with Chicago Opera Theater. He also debuted with the Illinois Philharmonic as the bass soloist in Handel’s Messiah, then returned back to Chicago Opera Theater for the Midwest premiere of Stefan Weisman’s opera The Scarlet Ibis. He concluded his 2018-19 solo season with the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra as the baritone soloist in Michael Tippett’s oratorio, A Child of Our Time, conducted by Barbara Schubert.

The 2021-22 season has Bill debuting with Opera San Antonio in their production of Verdi’s Rigoletto and performing several concerts throughout the season.

In 2013 Bill sang the role of “King Overall” in the Chicago premiere of Der Kaiser von Atlantis at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion with the New Millennium Orchestra under the baton of Francesco Milioto. Other notable roles in recent years include his first “Germont” in Verdi’s La Traviata with Harbor County Opera in Three Oaks, Michigan, the role of “Mr Greatorex” with Chicago Opera Theater in the world premiere opera Elizabeth Cree, a return to Summer Garden Opera in Virginia to reprise his signature role of “Figaro” in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and the lead role of “Prospero” in Lee Hoiby’s The Tempest with Longleaf Opera in NC, with the composer himself in attendance. He has sung with noted companies like Florida Grand Opera, Opera North, Knoxville Opera, The Opera Company of NC, Mobile Opera, Opera Carolina, Central City Opera and Opera on the James. Mr. McMurray has also performed several times with the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Opera in the Neighborhoods” and “Meet the Artist” outreach programs.

Equally successful on the concert stage, Bill has sung solos in such oratorios as Handel’s Messiah, which he recorded on CD, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, as well as works such as Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, and the Faure Requiem. Concert appearances include the New Philharmonic Orchestra in Glen Ellyn, the Elmhurst Orchestra and Choral Society, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Skokie Valley Symphony, Chicago Arts Orchestra, New Millennium Orchestra and the Waukegan Symphony. In 2016 he performed a set of Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs. In 2013 Bill sang the lead role in the Chicago premiere of Der Kaisser von Atlantis at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion with the New Millennium Orchestra under the baton of Francesco Milioto. with The Chicago Civic Orchestra and was the baritone soloist in a concert version of Porgy and Bess with Northwest Indiana Symphony. Mr McMurray was also a featured soloist in Florence and Rome, Italy with the combined choirs of St John Cantius Church and St Joseph College. In the summer of 2017, at the Ravinia Festival, he was the bass soloist in the final movement of Haydn’s The Creation, conducted by former Metropolitan Opera Music Director, James Levine. He is a previous first-place winner of the National Association Teachers of Singing competition and was one of eight singers selected to the Winners Circle of The Classical Music Vocal Competition, which was held in Chicago. Lastly, in 2021 Bill received a Grammy award as a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus for their work on the recording of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, Babi Yar.

Press Materials

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Reviews

“Company regular Bill McMurray was well suited to the role of Father. The burly singer was a strong yet sensitive paternal figure, his baritone warm yet pliant in his solo moments.”

Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review
The Scarlet Ibis – 2019

“We have been continuously delighted and impressed with the talent of baritone Bill McMurray. His sturdy baritone is capable of a range of color that bordered on fearsome as Ibn-Hakia in Iolanta earlier this season but was warm and paternal in this role. He portrayed the role of Father with pathos, dignity, and an uncanny honesty. Each time Mr. McMurray went to his shop, it brought tears to our eyes, either from sadness or gladness. His “Coffin” aria was heart wrenching in the direct simplicity of a father’s pain. In his “Red Wagon” aria, McMurray perfectly captures a simple working man’s determination to make his son’s life better than his own.”

William and Margaret Swain, Buzznews.net
The Scarlet Ibis – 2019

“It is on this ramp that we see the studied slow motion plodding walk of the father (Bill McMurray) to build a coffin for his newborn deformed son, that speaks to the moment’s sorrow as powerfully as his stop-you-in-your-tracks voice. It is here also that we see the indignity of death for The Scarlet Ibis as she is prodded with stick to her grave.”

Amy Munice, Picture This Post
The Scarlet Ibis – 2019

“Company regular Bill McMurray brought an authoritative bass-baritone and dignified presence to Ibn-Hakia, the holistic physician who communicates the secret of restoring Iolanta’s vision.”

Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review
Iolanta – 2019

“Bill McMurray, as Dr. Ibn Hakla, delivered a slightly more dramatic sound which suited the mystically transcendental requirements of that role. His aria was vocally spectacular, even if the staging was somewhat obtuse.”

William and Margaret Swain, Buzznews.net
Iolanta – 2019

“As Marcello…Bill McMurray…gave the audience some terrific singing. Chicago baritone Bill McMurray gives a wonderfully individual interpretation of the painter Marcello. Having sat through scores of performances of blustery, barking Marcellos, this reviewer found it refreshing to hear this role actually sung and not shouted. McMurray is a powerful actor and brings great elegance to the role. His singing is as fine as anything being heard in major opera houses today. One hopes to hear more of him in this area.”

Walter Martini, New Buffalo Times
La Boheme – 2013

“Baritone Bill McMurray gave a solid account of this psycho-musical study of love and loss, intelligently limning the labile emotional shifts of “Ich hab’ ein glühend’ Messer” and providing some deftly floated pianissimos.”

Mark Thomas Ketterson, Concertonet.com
Songs of a Wayfarer – 2008

“Bill McMurray imbues the lusty Count with a surprising amount of sex appeal…”

D.L. Groover, Houston Press
Marriage of Figaro – 2007

Dear Bill,
Once more, let me thank you for a most beautiful creation of my Prospero. I would love to have you sing the enclosed, and will recommend you any time I have the chance.

Sincerely,

Lee

Composer Lee Hoiby
Lee HoibyComposer
Lee Hoiby Letter

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Video

Bill McMurray sings:

Largo al factotum

Bill McMurray sings

Au fond du temple Saint

Bill McMurray sings:

It take a long pull to get there

Bill McMurray sings:

Vision Fugitive

Artist in Action

Bill McMurray in Performance