Widely known as a performer in the United States and in Europe, William Porter has also achieved international recognition for his skill in improvisation in a wide variety of styles, ancient and modern. He has performed at major international festivals and academies, including the North German Organ Academy, the Italian Academy of Music for the Organ, the Smarano Organ and Clavichord Academy, Organfestival Holland, the Göteborg International Organ Academy, the Dollart Festival, the Lausanne Improvisation Festival, the Festival Toulouse les Orgues, the Boston Early Music Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, the McGill International Organ Academy, Eastman’s Improvfest, and the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.
Recently retired as Professor of Organ, Harpsichord, and Improvisation (2002-2013) at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, he has also been a member of the music faculty at McGill University in Montreal, where he lived from 2004 until fall 2015. From 1985 to 2002 he taught organ, music history, and theory at the New England Conservatory in Boston, and from 2001 until 2005 he taught improvisation at Yale University. He holds degrees from Oberlin College, where he also taught organ and harpsichord from 1974 to 1986, and from Yale University, where he was director of music at Yale Divinity School from 1971 to 1973.
He has recorded on historic instruments, old and new, for the Gasparo, Proprius, BMG, and Loft labels. He currently serves as organ consultant for the ConstellationCenter, a new performing arts center to be built in the Boston area, which will house several organs in different styles. Now residing in Rochester, New York, he returns to the Eastman School of Music as part-time Professor of Organ and Coordinator of Sacred Music Diploma Internships.