In conjunction with his distinguished career as a performer, William Neill, during the last 40 years, has become one of the world’s most prominent and respected vocal pedagogues. He is well versed in a vast body of repertoire and equally comfortable teaching all of the various voice classifications (soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone, bass). An exceptionally large percentage of his students enjoy active careers and appear regularly with opera companies and symphony orchestras throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Many singers from his studio are Metropolitan Opera artists – among them, Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, winner of the first Birgit Nilsson Award in the 1988 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, dramatic tenor Clifton Forbis, recent Wagnerian sensation Jay Hunter Morris, lyric tenors Dimitri Pittas and Joseph Kaiser, baritone Joshua Hopkins, lyric-spinto soprano Julie Makerov, et al.
Each year, singers from Bill’s studio are selected through an arduous audition process as competition winners, grant recipients and participants in the various professional young artist training programs – i.e. Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Program and National Council Auditions, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Chicago Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, Houston Grand Opera, Pittsburgh, Glimmerglass, Santa Fe, Sarasota Opera, Minnesota Opera, Wolf Trap, Chautauqua, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera North, Central City Opera, Ash Lawn, Tanglewood, Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Ravinia Festival Steans Institute, Castleton Festival, Orford Festival, Banff Centre, L’Opéra National du Rhin Strasbourg, L’Opéra Bastille, Oper der Stadt Köln, Opera Index, Operalia, Marilyn Horne Foundation, George London Foundation, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, Richard Tucker Foundation and McAllister Awards.
A native Texan, he completed both B.Mus. and M.Mus. degrees at UT Austin where he was a student of Willa Stewart. Early in his career, he participated in the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist and Merola Opera programs, was awarded grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation and was winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, San Francisco Opera Auditions, Washington DC’s Friday Morning Music Club Competition and the Shreveport Symphony Society’s Young Artist Competition. For 15 years, Bill served as Director of Vocal Studies for the McGill University Schulich School of Music in Montreal. After retirement, Bill accepted a 5-year tenured professorship as Vocal Area Chair at the University of Oklahoma. Frequently called upon to adjudicate competitions and to conduct master classes and workshops, he often taught alongside his late wife, prominent vocal coach and collaborative artist Dixie Ross-Neill, internationally recognized authority on professional young artist training programs. The two of them were greatly honored to receive the OPERA CANADA 2003 Ruby Award recognizing them for “professional excellence and outstanding lifetime achievement in Opera, Vocal Training and Education”. He now lives full-time in New York City and maintains a studio comprised of a selective number of established international artists and emerging professionals.
In Summer 2012, Bill established and became founding co-director of The Audition Boot Camp, working alongside his long-time friend and performance colleague, eminent international opera star Lauren Flanigan, who is also founding director of Music and Mentoring House, providing hands on mentoring, coaching, professional introductions, and a safe place for artists coming to study, audition or transition to New York City.