Meet the Composer: Evan Williams

Meet the Composer: Evan Williams

Evan Williams

Sweet Home Chicago will debut a commissioned piece by Evan. Here’s more on the composer:

Drawing from inspirations as diverse as Medieval chant to contemporary pop, the music of composer and conductor Evan Williams (b. 1988) explores the thin lines between beauty and disquieting, joy and sorrow, and simple and complex, while often tackling important social and political issues. Williams’ catalogue contains a broad range of work, from vocal and operatic offerings to instrumental works, along with electronic music.

He has been commissioned by notable performers and ensembles including the Cincinnati and Toledo Symphony Orchestras, Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra, Quince Ensemble, and more, with further performances by members of the Detroit, Seattle, and National Symphonies, the International Contemporary Ensemble, American Brass Quintet, New Music Detroit, Fifth House Ensemble, Splinter Reeds, the Verb Ballets, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. His work has also been featured at festivals such as MATA, RED NOTE, Strange Beautiful Music, SEAMUS, the New Music Gathering, the Electroacoustic Barn Dance, the New York City Electronic Music Festival, and the New Music Festival at Bowling Green State University.

Williams’ work can be heard on multiple commercial releases, including soprano Katherine Jolly’s critically acclaimed debut album Preach Sister, Preach. Gramophone Magazine described his song cycle Emily’s House as “wistful” and praised his settings of Emily Dickinson’s poetry as “rather beautifu[l].”

​Williams has received awards and recognition from the American Prize, the National Federation of Music Clubs, ASCAP, Fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and in 2018, was chosen as the Detroit Symphony’s inaugural African-American Classical Roots Composer-in-Residence.

Williams completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition with a cognate in Orchestral Conducting at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. There, he studied with Michael Fiday, Mara Helmuth, and Douglas Knehans, and served as a teaching assistant in electronic music. He holds a Masters degree from Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, OH), and a Bachelors from the Conservatory of Music at Lawrence University (Appleton, WI). His other primary teachers have been Asha Srinivasan, Joanne Metcalf, Christopher Dietz, Mikel Kuehn, and Marilyn Shrude. He has also received instruction in festivals, masterclasses, and lessons from composers Julia Wolfe, Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, David Maslanka, Libby Larson, Evan Chambers, Stacy Garrop, Dan Visconti, and others. He has also trained at the Bard Conductors Institute and the Band Conducting and Pedagogy Clinic at the University of Michigan.

Originally from the Chicagoland area, composer and conductor Williams currently resides in Memphis, TN, and serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Activities at Rhodes College, where he teaches composition, music technology, and is music director of the Rhodes Orchestra. He previously held teaching positions at Lawrence University, Bennington College, and at The Walden School’s Young Musicians Program.