Bio – Chris Williams (1986)

Chris’ music is elemental and monolithic, work as ‘elegant in the making as in the made’. Ideas of growth and form, emergence, drift and self-similarity, appropriated from biology, as well as precepts that have resonance across art-forms, science, and nature like colour, line, shape, pattern and process inform and permeate his music.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently called his music a “a lovely shade of wistful”, while the Daily Review noted his “brilliantly unsettling music” for the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Sydney Opera House.

In 2019, Chris’ music for the revival of Louis Nowra’s classic play ‘Cosi’ was heard in Melbourne and at the Sydney Opera House, a co-production between the Sydney and Melbourne Theatre Companies. His music featured in the Song Company’s 35th anniversary tour, where his music “floated… ending iridescently” (Sydney Morning Herald). In 2020, Chris has been commissioned by the Song Company, with funding from the Silo Collective, to write a new major song cycle, and is composing a concerto commissioned by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

In 2018 Chris was invited by Toshio Hosokawa to attend his Takefu International Music Festival in Japan as a featured composer. Two newly commissioned works, Strange and Solemn Music, and Light of the Two Horizons, were premiered. Also in 2018, Chris’ piece a golden string (previously selected by Master of Queen’s Music, Judith Weir, as the winner of the Blake Society’s Tithe Grant), was the featured musical work for the unveiling of William Blake’s new gravestone. Sung by Sansara, the work has been broadcast on the BBC. Chris was an invited composer at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek in Utrecht and his music for Convict Monologues – commissioned by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra – was performed for the state funeral of former Attorney-General, Vanessa Goodwin.

In 2017 Chris won the composition prize of the Australian International Chopin Competition. Chris was also the inaugural ‘Friends of the National Library of Australia’ Creative Arts Fellow. As part of this fellowship he worked Sydney Chamber Opera on a workshop performance of a new operatic scena, The truth of the flowers, to a text by Pierce Wilcox.

Chris completed his Master’s in Composition at the University of Oxford in 2013 and is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He was commissioned by Carnegie Hall in 2012, where his work San-Shih-Fan was premiered. During this time he worked with then composer-in residence Kaija Saariaho. Previously, Chris was one of only six composers worldwide to be selected by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen’s Music, to attend his Advanced Composition course at the Dartington International Summer School, England. His work has been performed by The Song Company, The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Cavaleri Quartet and The Australian Voices, with whom he was composer-in-residence in 2010.

Chris has been awarded the Joyful Company of Singers Young Composer Prize. Also in 2012 Chris was selected for the Tenso Young Composers workshop, held in Sweden, as part of the Nordic Music Days, where his music was workshopped by Eric Ericsons Kammarkör under the guidance of James Wood.

In 2011 Chris featured as an emerging artist with Speak Percussion in Melbourne, Halcyon in Sydney and was the winner of the youth prize in the Jean Bogan Memorial Prize for Piano Composition. In September 2010 Chris’ work of silence into silence, a setting of Australian Poet Judith Wright, was premiered by Nicole Thompson and Brad Gill as part of the ‘Judith Wright Project.’ At the same event, Chris conducted the premiere of Gill’s ‘Patterns,’ recorded by the ABC.

His composition teachers have included Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Nigel Butterley, Robert Saxton, Colin Bright, Rosalind Page, Elliott Gyger, Michael Smetanin, Paul Stanhope, and James Ledger.

He is an Associate Artist at the Australian Music Centre and is represented by Aurora Artists’ Management.

twitter: @composer_chris

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