Bolstering Bill Winstead’s Legacy

CSO Chamber Music Series Now Endowed
By & Named For Beloved Bassoonist

by Erica Reid

William Winstead
William "Bill" Winstead

If an artist is fortunate, they leave behind a legacy—a contribution to be remembered by. In the case of musician William “Bill” Winstead, his legacy was all but assured, based on factors including his vibrant personality, his history as a respected educator, his talent as a composer, and his 32-year tenure as a bassoonist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO). No one who knew Bill is likely to forget him.

“Whenever I think of Bill, a vivid image of him laughing comes to mind,” remembers Jennifer Monroe, a former student and later a CSO colleague of Winstead’s. “He had a talent for sharing humorous anecdotes and stories—he was a storyteller, both of his life and in his playing. His insatiable curiosity about life led him to have a very rich experience of it, and I believe he took as much pleasure in recounting his experiences as he did in living them.”

Another former student turned colleague, Martin Garcia, calls Winstead “one of the luminaries of the bassoon community.” “For three decades, he was responsible for countless colorful and expressive bassoon solos at Music Hall,” says Garcia. “To know him first as our teacher and then as a colleague and friend was a very special gift.”

As fondly as he will be remembered by those who knew him, Winstead’s legacy can now be assured for generations to come. Winstead left the CSO a generous financial gift following his passing in 2020; Garcia and Monroe were named as executors of his estate and, working alongside the CSO, have elected to endow the music series formerly known as the CSO Chamber Players in Winstead’s honor. Beginning in the 2023-24 season, the series will be known as the Winstead Chamber Music Series.

For Monroe, the endowment of the chamber music series is a fit with Bill’s background as well as his spirit of individuality. “His musical development was heavily influenced by chamber music, which played a vital role in his early career before joining the CSO,” says Monroe. “As the Chamber Players concerts offer performers an opportunity to showcase their own creativity and individuality, Bill’s endowment of these concerts beautifully and meaningfully marries these values.”

Garcia agrees that the chamber series is an ideal match. “There was a beauty in the individuality and details of Bill’s playing that is best exemplified in chamber music,” he says. “We hope that he would be pleased to know that his gift is going to secure the Chamber Players series forever, providing the musicians of the orchestra a platform to express themselves, connect with our wonderful audiences, and share the inspiration in these works.”

Neither Garcia nor Monroe were surprised that Winstead left the Orchestra such a generous gift in his estate. Monroe calls the CSO “the foundation of [Winstead’s] artistic pursuits.” In Garcia’s words, “He had a love for those things in life that enhance our experiences as people, whether it was human connection, visual art, music, travel, or food. Our orchestra in Cincinnati is a cornerstone for art and human connection about which Bill cared very deeply.”

Kate Farinacci, the CSO’s Director of Special Campaigns & Legacy Giving, agrees with Winstead’s colleagues. “I think Bill had an unrivaled camaraderie with his other counterparts in the Orchestra,” she says. Farinacci points out that the chamber music series is completely musician-driven—besides the series acting as a source of artistic expression, musicians also select the music on the programs, manage their own rehearsals, and make all other key decisions about the series. “He was all about the musicians,” she affirms.

One can only hope to enjoy a life as well-lived as Winstead’s, and now his act of generosity has assured the future of chamber music at the CSO and an avenue of individuality and expression for his fellow musicians—and for musicians far into the future. “Bill’s contributions as a performer, composer, and educator left a significant impact,” says Monroe, “and now, as a donor, he adds to his already considerable legacy.”