Carol Williams (organist)

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Carol Williams
Dr. Carol Williams
Dr. Carol Williams
Background information
BornGreat Britain
Occupation(s)Organist, composer
Instrument(s)Pipe organ
Years active1984–present
LabelsMelcot Music

Carol Anne Williams D.M.A., ARAM, FRCO, FTCL, ARCM (born 1972) is a British-born international concert organist and composer, now residing in America. She served from October 2001 and resigned her post in October 2016[1][2][3][non-primary source needed] as Civic Organist for the city of San Diego, California, performing regularly at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.[4][5] She was concurrently serving as the artistic director of the Spreckels Organ Society;[6] producing the largest organ festival in North America since 2001. She was formerly the Artist in Residence at St. Paul's Cathedral San Diego.[7]

Upon stepping down from her post as Civic Organist for the city of San Diego in October 2016, in recognition of her fifteen years of service, Carol was awarded the title of San Diego Civic Organist Emerita. Presently the Artist in Residence at Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia and the artistic director of Viscount North America.

As a featured musician on many media platforms, she highlights her profound love for the "King of Instruments." Carol hosts TourBus, a documentary series exploring the large and small, famous and unique pipe organs of the world,[8] and also, hosts a YouTube talk show series called "On The Bench with Dr. Carol" where she interviews musical artists.

Carol Williams performing "Flight of the Bumblebee" at the West Point Cadet Chapel.

Early life and education[edit]

Williams was born in Great Britain in a Welsh family with musical influences. She began private lessons at age five and was able to read music before she was reading English. Her formal training started with five years at the Royal Academy of Music where she specialised in the organ, performing as a student of David Sanger. She obtained the academy's prestigious Recital Diploma, together with the LRAM for both organ and piano. She was awarded all the major prizes for organ performing and, during her studies, she became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and a Fellow of Trinity College London, as well as an Associate of the Royal College of Music.

Williams has also studied with Daniel Roth, the Organist at the Church of St. Sulpice, Paris. Moving to the United States, Williams undertook postgraduate study at Yale University[9] under the direction of Thomas Murray. She was appointed University Chapel Organist and was awarded an Artist Diploma (AD) together with the Charles Ives Prize for outstanding achievement. She then relocated to New York City where she became the Associate Organist at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Long Island's Garden City. She undertook doctoral study under McNeil Robinson at the Manhattan School of Music, where she received the Helen Cohn award for her Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree.[10]


Williams has performed around the world, including: St. Sulpice and Notre Dame, Paris; Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles;[11] Westminster Abbey; St Paul's Cathedral; King's College, Cambridge; The Queen's College, Oxford; Salisbury Cathedral;[12] Blenheim Palace;[13] Woolsey Hall, Yale University; Memorial Chapel, Harvard University; St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York; Washington National Cathedral; St. Ignatius Loyola, New York; Riverside Church, New York. She has also given numerous concerts in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Monaco, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Singapore, China and Russia.

Williams has been elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM) in recognition of her contribution to music. A regular broadcaster in the UK and in America, she has been the guest performer with a number of leading orchestras including the BBC Concert Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra and the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. She performed the inaugural recitals on a newly installed Austin organ in Beijing's Forbidden City Concert Hall.

Williams has been interviewed on many radio programs, in which she has highlighted her 'profound love' of the organ, and she is featured in the national-awareness video Pulling out all the Stops when she was filmed in concert at St. Thomas' Church on New York's Fifth Avenue. She also took part in the Virgil Fox Memorial Concert[14][15] held in the fall of 2000 at New York's Riverside Church, and a recording of the event was released.

Williams also hosts a video series TourBus, which focuses on various pipe organs around the world as with the music, people and places associated with them.

In October 2001, Williams became the first woman in the United States to be appointed Civic Organist. She served as the San Diego Civic Organist and Artistic director of the Spreckels Organ Society in San Diego, California from 2001 to 2016.[16][17][18] Williams performs an average of 75 concerts a year worldwide.

Williams regularly attracts new audiences to the pipe organ[19] with charismatic humor and programs of intense genre diversity, including collaborations with various jazz, blues, pop and rock bands.[20] Concert patrons have received her live performances with 'rock star' enthusiasm.


Williams performs about 20 hours of free organ concerts a year to raise awareness and funds for various charitable organisations.[21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31]


Published by Melcot Music:

  • TourBus (For Organ and Drums) 2008
  • Twilight (For Organ) 2013
  • Major Something, Non Fat Latte! (For Organ) 2013
  • Bonnie Eriskay (For Organ and Bagpipes) 2013
  • Suite For Organ 2014
  • Daisy Violin (Violin and Organ) 2014
  • Dragon Dance (Violin and Organ) 2014
  • Venus Toccata (For Organ) 2014
  • Three Thoughts (For Piano) 2014
  • Freedom (For Organ) 2014
  • Centennial Spreckels Fanfare (For Organ) 2014
  • Tiger Lilly Waltz (For Organ) 2014
  • Divine Song (For Organ and Voice) 2015
  • For Michael (For Piano) 2015
  • Dietrich's Dilemma! (For Organ) 2015
  • Andromeda (For Organ) 2015
  • Sophie's Game (For Organ) 2015


Produced by Melcot Music:[32]

  • Rejoice with Dr. Carol MCTCD023
  • Just Carol Compositions MCTCD022
  • Carol's Christmas MCTCD021
  • Carol Williams Plays – Volume 2, Madness! MCTCD020
  • Carol Williams Plays MCTCD019
  • Mainly French MCTCD018
  • Hey Wurlitzer MCTCD016
  • Maid in China MCTCD015
  • Wurlitzer Plus! MCTCD014
  • Orchestral! MCTCD013
  • Tour de Force MCTCD012
  • Classic Power: Popular Organ Music From Winchester Cathedral MCTCD011
  • Just Rags MCTCD007
  • Hammond Today MCTCD002
  • Carol Williams' Collection
  • Sunday at 2
  • Blenheim Palace
  • Oxford Town Hall

Produced by Rumley Music:[33]

  • House of Scotland RMCD1220


Produced by Valentine Music:

  • Blenheim Palace – A Musical Tour OSV-507
  • Organ Showcase OSV-508

Produced by Bell Video:[8]

  • TourBus 1 to the King of Instruments MCTDVD001
  • TourBus 2 goes to Methuen MCTDVD002
  • TourBus 3 goes to Spreckels MCTDVD003
  • TourBus 4 goes to Paris MCTDVD004
  • TourBus 5 goes to Luxembourg MCTDVD005
  • TourBus 6 goes to Ocean Grove MCTDVD006
  • TourBus 7 goes to Disney Hall MCTDVD007
  • TourBus 8 goes Celtic MCTDVD008
  • TourBus 9 First Congregational Church, Los Angeles MCTDVD009
  • TourBus 10 goes to St. Paul's Cathedral San Diego MCTDVD010
  • TourBus 11 goes to the Compenius Organ in Denmark MCTDVD011
  • TourBus 12 goes to the Salomons' Welte Organ in England MCTDVD012
  • TourBus 13 goes to the Peragallo Pipe Organ Company USA MCTDVD013


  1. ^ Varga, George (8 September 2016). "San Diego Civic Organist Carol Williams stepping down". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  2. ^ "December 2018". 30 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Balboa Park". Retrieved 20 December 2018 – via Facebook.
  4. ^ "Spreckels Organ Pavilion | Balboa Park". Archived from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Civic Lesson: Carol Williams talks about life as San Diego's civic organist". 27 February 2012. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  6. ^ " – sosorgan Resources and Information. This website is for sale!". Retrieved 20 December 2018. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  7. ^ "St. Paul's Organ | St. Pauls Cathedral 4 the City". Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  8. ^ a b "TourBus", Bell Video
  9. ^ "Carol Williams '98AD is first American woman to serve as civic organist". Yale School of Music. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  10. ^ "System – Error 404". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Bio at Walt Disney Concert Hall". Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  12. ^ bio at Salisbury Cathedral Archived 5 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Carol at Blenheim Palace". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Virgil Fox Memorial Concert". Archived from the original on 23 February 2002. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  15. ^ "Virgil Fox Memorial Concert". The Gothic Catalog. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  16. ^ "With Jets Providing Accompaniment, a Rare City Treasure Stands Exposed", The New York Times, 28 April 2007
  17. ^ "San Diego Civic Organist Carol Williams stepping down", The San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 September 2016
  18. ^ "Career transition for Dr. Carol Williams", Spreckels Organ Society, 30 August 2016
  19. ^ "Coming to Worcester, not your traditional organist". 1 April 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  20. ^ Armstrong, Chuck (September 2014). "Drive Like Jehu Perform Reunion Gig with Spreckels Organ". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  21. ^ [1][dead link]
  22. ^ "Pipe Organ Marathon Concert to benefit Operation Rebound | Balboa Park". Archived from the original on 7 June 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  23. ^ "Blackbaud Internet Solutions – Online Events and Marketing Solutions". 2 April 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Bark in the Park 7 Offers Tail-Wagging Fun for All | Balboa Park". Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  25. ^ "Spreckels Organ Concert Benefits the San Diego Chapter of the American Red Cross : Presidio Sentinel". 5 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  26. ^ "12-Hour Organ Concert Marathon – San Diego Civic Organist Dr. Carol Williams – Spreckels Organ Pavilion". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  27. ^ Dr. Carol Williams. "Dr. Carol Williams plays 12 straight hours in Balboa Park – 6 News". Archived from the original on 15 December 2021. Retrieved 20 December 2018 – via YouTube.
  28. ^ Dr. Carol Williams. "Dr. Carol Williams to play 12 hour concert at Balboa Park – 10 News". Retrieved 20 December 2018 – via YouTube.
  29. ^ "Civic Organist Plans Free New Year's Day Concert at Spreckels". 31 December 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  30. ^ "Give us a home!". 7 August 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  31. ^ "Carol Williams (A.D. '97) – Institute of Sacred Music". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  32. ^ "TourBus video series and Carol Williams CDs". Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  33. ^ "Bagpipes and Organ". Retrieved 20 December 2018.

External links[edit]