Gareth Williams (composer)

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Gareth Williams
Birth name Gareth Williams
Origin County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Occupation(s) Composer
Years active 2000-

Gareth Patrick Williams (born 1977) is an Irish composer working as the first composer in residence for Scottish Opera. His work spans from opera to chamber music.


Originally from Armagh, Williams moved to Glasgow after studying music at Queen's University, Belfast. In 2008 he was awarded his doctorate from the University of St Andrews.[1] He taught composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland until 2012, and since then works as a freelance composer. His work has been featured in the Edinburgh Festival, St Magnus Festival, Tête à Tête (opera company), Opera to Go, and the York Late Music Festival.[citation needed] His music has been broadcast on BBC Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Ulster, RTÉ Television, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, and CBC Radio 2 in Canada.

In 2009, he was on residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, where he wrote two large music theatre pieces -A Short Treatise on Love and Miracle for the Sound Festival in Aberdeen,[2] and Gethsemane for the 2010 Plug Festival.[3] In August 2009 and 2010, he took part in the LibLab at Tapestry New Opera Works in Toronto,[4] to create short operas in collaboration with Canadian writers, and these were performed in the Opera Briefs festival in Toronto in both years.[5] In Scotland, NOISE (New Opera in Scotland Events) commissioned and premiered ‘the Sloans Project’ (with libretto by David James Brock).[6]

Williams has been Composer in Residence at Scottish Opera,[7] and he has created several works in this post. Elephant Angel (with libretto by Bernard McLaverty)[8] toured Scotland and Northern Ireland in Autumn 2012. Another opera, Last One Out (with libretto by Johnny McKnight),[9] was premiered at the Sound Festival in 2012 in Fraserburgh Lighthouse, both works receiving five star reviews from The Herald (Glasgow) and The Scotsman. Hand (with libretto by Johnny McKnight) was created for the 2013 Opera Highlights tour. The Song, the Stars and the Blossom (text from an interview with Dennis Potter) appeared in 2014 and The Rocking Horse Winner by D. H. Lawrence (Librettist Anna Chatterton) in 2015.

With the support of The Wellcome Trust, he has created Breath Cycle (with libretto by David James Brock) at the Respiratory ward at Gartnavel Royal Hospital, where he is making songs and opera specifically for patients with Cystic Fibrosis. The material is bespoke to lung capacity, range, and ability, and the effects of singing on respiratory health are being monitored and measured.[10]

In 2015, Hirda, A New Opera for Shetland, co-composed with Shetland Fiddler, Chris Stout, and produced by NOISE, toured Shetland and performed in Glasgow and Edinburgh[11][12]

Prizes and awards[edit]

Prizes include the Dinah Wolf Prize for Composition,[13] and his piece Search Engines was winner of the 2000 Great British Conservatoire Composers Forum.[14][citation needed]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ Edinburgh, University of. "Dr Gareth Williams". Edinburgh College of Art. University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  2. ^ "A Short Treatise on Love and Miracles". The Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  3. ^ "Choral Concert In Restored West Church In Thurso". Northings. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "About: What We Do". Tapestry opera. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  5. ^ Everett-Green, Robert. "Opera in a Pub: Tapestry raises a glass". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  6. ^ "NOISE (New Opera in Scotland Events): The Sloans Project". Made in Scotland. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "SCOTTISH OPERA APPOINTS FIRST COMPOSER IN RESIDENCE" (PDF). Scottish Opera. Retrieved 22 February 2016. 
  8. ^ Telegrah, Belfast. "Elephant Angel". Scottish Opera. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  9. ^ Kettle, David. "A non-traditional opera featuring text from Johnny McKnight and music from Gareth Williams". The List. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  10. ^ "Breath Cycle – Singing and Cystic Fibrosis". Breath Cycle. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  11. ^ Molleson, Kate. "Hirda Review". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  12. ^ Bruce, Keith. "Hirda Review". The Herald. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  13. ^ "noise opera". Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  14. ^ "Gareth Williams". Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 

External links[edit]