William C. Byrd

William C. Byrd was the director of the Flint Institute of Music and conductor of the Flint Symphony Orchestra from 1966 to 1974. He was an exceptionally talented musician with vision and extraordinary skills for leadership in the various fields of music. Conducting and composing were his main interests, but he also was devoted to the artistic growth of young musicians and had a dream of bringing some of the world's finest young talent to Flint with the intent of showcasing virtually unknown rising young artists with the Flint Symphony Orchestra.

Byrd initiated the Young Artist Competition in 1970 with the assistance of the St. Cecilia Society of Flint, Michigan. Following his death in 1974, the St. Cecilia Society continued the competition and renamed it the William C. Byrd International Young Artist Competition in his memory.