Clarinetist Michael Webster is Professor of Music at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music and Artistic Director of the Houston Youth Symphony, which has won over 20 national awards since 2008 and appeared on the nationally distributed NPR program, “From the Top.”Described by the Boston Globe as “a virtuoso of burgeoning prominence,” Webster has collaborated with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Tokyo, Cleveland, Muir, Ying, Leontóvych, Dover, Enso, Artaria, and Chester String Quartets and artists such as Yo Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, and Lynn Harrell among many others. He has been associated with many of North America's finest festivals, including Marlboro, Santa Fe, Chamber Music Northwest, Norfolk, Angel Fire, Steamboat Springs, Sitka, Park City, Skaneateles, Maui, Bowdoin, La Musica di Asola, Stratford (Ontario), Victoria (BC), and Domaine Forget (Quebec). As a soloist he has appeared with many orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra with Aaron Copland and the Boston Pops with John Williams. For many years he was Aaron Copland's favorite interpreter of his Clarinet Concerto.
Webster's recital career began at Town Hall in 1968 with his eminent father, Beveridge Webster, as pianist. That same year he won Young Concert Artists' International Competition and became Principal Clarinetist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then he has performed in all of New York City's major halls, across the United States, and in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. He has appeared as guest artist with the 92nd Street “Y", Da Camera of Houston, Musiqa, and Context. High Fidelity/Musical America placed his CRI recording of American clarinet music on its Best Recordings list and Artists International selected him for its Distinguished Artist Award.
Webster has served as Acting Principal Clarinetist of the San Francisco Symphony, Music Director of the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester, Founder and Music Director of Chamber Music Ann Arbor, and Associate Professor of Clarinet at the Eastman School of Music, from which he earned three degrees as a student of Stanley Hasty. In 1988 he became a member of the conducting faculty at the New England Conservatory and taught clarinet both there and at Boston University. He has also taught at the San Francisco Conservatory, the Yale Summer School at Norfolk, Aria International Academy, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the Johannesen International School of the Arts, the Bowdoin Festival, and the Texas Music Festival. Webster was Music Director of the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Asian Youth Orchestra under Yehudi Menuhin, and guest conductor of several Boston-area orchestras before joining the University of Michigan faculty as Adjunct Professor of Conducting and Director of the Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestra in 1993.
In demand as a clinician, Webster has presented master classes at such institutions as the Manhattan School of Music, Florida State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Louisiana State University, the Puerto Rico Conservatory (San Juan), the University of Victoria (Wellington, New Zealand), Senzoku Gakuen (Tokyo, Japan), the University of Washington, the UMKC Conservatory of Music (Kansas City), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the Interlochen Arts Academy. He has also served as clarinet coach for the Orchestra of the Americas since 2005 (in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Mexico, Panama, Poland, the U.S., and Venezuela), the National Youth Orchestra Festival (Sarasota), and at Banff for the International Festival of Youth Orchestras.
In 1988 he founded the Webster Trio with his wife, flutist Leone Buyse. With Robert Moeling they recorded Tour de France, and World Wide Webster for Crystal Records. With pianist Chizuko Sawa, the Webster Trio Japan has released Sonata Cho-Cho San on the Nami label and From Vienna to Budapest on Camerata. All of these discs feature Webster's trio arrangements, which, along with his original compositions, are published by Presser, International Music Company, Schott, and G. Schirmer. Webster also appears on the Albany, Arabesque, Bridge, Centaur, CRI, and New World labels. Highly regarded as a teacher, he contributes a regular column entitled “Teaching Clarinet” to The Clarinet magazine of the International Clarinet Association. Webster is a Buffet-Crampon USA artist, playing Buffet clarinets exclusively.