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 2015, Chris was 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. In 2017 Chris won the composition prize of the Australian International Chopin Competition, while in 2018 he was an invited composer at the Takefu International Music Festival, and featured at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek in the Netherlands.

Also in 2018, Chris’ composition was the featured musical performance at the unveiling of William Blake’s new gravestone in London, while his music for Convict Monologues – commissioned by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra – was performed for the state funeral of former Attorney-General, Vanessa Goodwin.

Chris completed his Master’s in Composition at the University of Oxford in 2013 and 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 was awarded the Blake Society’s Tithe Grant for composition. This international prize, adjudicated by Judith Weir, culminated in the premiere of his piece a golden string, at St.James Piccadilly, conducted by Aidan Oliver. More recently, Chris has also 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.

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