William Boughton was born into a musical family: his grandfather (Rutland Boughton) was a composer, his father a professional viola player, and his mother a singer. After cello studies at the New England Conservatory (Boston), Guildhall School of Music (London), and Prague Academy, he entered the profession in London, playing with the Royal Philharmonic, BBC, and London Sinfonietta.
The experience of playing in orchestras led to a passion to pursue a career in conducting and he decided to return to studies first with George Hurst and then with Sir Colin Davis. In 1980, he formed the English Symphony Orchestra and developed the ESO’s repertoire through the Baroque period to Viennese classics and into contemporary music. During his time with the ESO, he commissioned more than 20 works from such composers as Peter Sculthorpe, John Joubert, Anthony Powers, Michael Berkeley, John Metcalf, Stephen Roberts, and Adrian Williams. The depth of his partnership with the ESO was epitomized in 1985 when, as Artistic Director of the Malvern Festival, he collaborated with Sir Michael Tippett in presenting a musical celebration of the composer’s eightieth birthday, which became the subject of a BBC “Omnibus” documentary.
With the ESO on Nimbus Records, he built a significant discography of internationally acclaimed recordings—predominantly of English music—a number of which reached the Top Ten on the US charts. During his final years with the ESO, Boughton successfully launched the first ESO Elgar Festival in Malvern and Worcester, and also celebrated the orchestra’s 25th Anniversary performing a complete Beethoven symphony cycle, in which he created a new series of pre-concert performances of British contemporary music, including works by Birtwistle, Knussen, Watkins, Woolrich, Holloway, and Turnage. He has participated in a number of high-profile arts programs for BBC Television, a radio program about Elgar that was broadcast in New York, Chicago, Washington, and Boston in 2006, and a series entitled “1st Eleven” for Classic FM, during the 2006 Soccer World Cup. He has guest conducted major orchestras around the world, including the San Francisco, London, and Helsinki Symphony Orchestras.
In July 2007, he became the tenth Music Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has instituted a Composer-in-Residence program and undertaken a major recording project of the works of William Walton; the first recording—Walton’s Violin Concerto and First Symphony—was released by Nimbus in 2010 and selected as a Critic’s Choice for 2010 by prestigious Gramophone Magazine. Under Boughton’s leadership, the NHSO was awarded an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming in both 2010 and 2014.
As a sought after guest conductor, Chelsea has appeared with numerous major orchestras in the U.S., including Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Houston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, New Jersey, Nashville, Hilton Head, and San Antonio, as well as the Brooklyn, Louisiana, and Rochester Philharmonics, and the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana (Palermo) among others. During the summer of 2011 he was part of an extensive European tour with pop artist Sting that took him to 15 countries and to work with 19 different European orchestras. He prepared the orchestras for the concerts and performed with Sting in concert in the Canary Islands, Granada, and Cap Roig Spain. Chelsea recently conducted the Sphinx Competition Showcase gala concert at Carnegie Hall, which was the culmination of a ten city tour with that orchestra. He was a last minute replacement for Robert Spano to conduct an all-Gershwin season finale with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. The New York Times applauded Tipton for “leading sweeping and vibrant performances” of Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris.