William Conway began his career as a cellist in his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland. In the last year of his studies at the Royal College of Music in London he accepted the post of principal cello with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Whilst there he gave many performances as soloist and director including the first performance of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ cello concerto, which he also recorded. He returned to the SCO as soloist to perform this work as part of Max’s 70th birthday celebrations, with reviews quoting ”compelling performance” “unwaveringly soulful account”.
He has had many concertos and pieces written for him underlining his strong commitment to contemporary music. This was recognized by an award from the Scottish Society of Composers for an outstanding contribution to new music. He has played for many dance and music collaborations most notably for Rudolf Nureyev at the Edinburgh International Festival.
Throughout his career he has held the job of co-principal cello with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe working with many of the great conductors including Karajan, Guilini, Maazel, Harnoncourt, Haitink, Rattle and Abbado.
He is Artistic Director and Head of Strings and Chamber Music at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh.
He is Artistic Director of contemporary chamber music group Hebrides Ensemble where he combines both of his passions - conducting and cello-playing. The ensemble has commissioned over seventy new works in the last twenty years. In Summer 2008 they performed the Martyrdom of St Magnus chamber opera by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, released their CD of Messiaen chamber music for Linn Records and gave their debut at the Wigmore Hall and Aldeburgh Festival. He broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 and has recorded for Linn Records and Deutsche Gramophone .
He regularly gives recitals which have attracted praise not only for the quality of performance but for the imaginatively-created programmes presented. He plays on a cello from 1695 by Giovanni Tononi of Bologna.