B i o g r a p h y
Composer and songwriter Gareth Williams is a Chancellor’s Fellow at Edinburgh College of Art. His compositions seek to find new relationships, participants, collaborators and audiences for new opera, music theatre, and song, to shed light on stories and communities that have been overlooked, and to explore ideas of vulnerability in vocal writing. He creates award winning music for companies and organisations such as Scottish Opera, Tapestry Opera, National Theatre of Scotland, Red Note Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble, Bridge Theatre, Ulster Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and Chamber Music Scotland.
Williams was Composer in Residence at Scottish Opera from 2011 to 2014. During this time, he created a series of operas and projects, including ‘Breath Cycle’, at the respiratory ward of Gartnavel Royal Hospital, where he wrote songs, ensemble pieces, and opera specifically for patients with Cystic Fibrosis, who weren’t allowed in the same room as one another. Breath Cycle was nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Award in 2015. He continues this preoccupation in 2022, working with people suffering from Long Covid symptoms in Breath Cycle II at Scottish Opera .
He has created three award-winning operas with NOISE Opera since 2012, each one bringing a new collaborator to the genre, from the patrons of Glasgow’s oldest bar, the Shetland fiddler, Chris Stout, and the Scottish indie band, Admiral Fallow.
The chamber opera, ’Rocking Horse Winner’, adapted from a short story by D.H. Lawrence by librettist Anna Chatterton, was premiered by Tapestry Opera in Toronto in May 2016, and was nominated for 9 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, winning 5, including Outstanding Musical Production. The work was staged at Saratoga Opera in 2018, and described as ‘beautiful and disturbing, gripping and provocative.’ (Classical Voice America). A cast recording was released in 2020, available on streaming platforms. In 2023, Rocking Horse Winner was staged by Opera Louisiane, Opera Maine, and returned to Toronto for a re-mount by Tapestry Opera in November 2023.
From 2015 - 2018 Williams collaborated with Oliver Emanuel to create The 306 Trilogy. 306 Dawn (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Herald), 306 Day (⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Times) and 306 Dusk ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Herald, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Stage) were a collection of music theatre works over three years telling the story of the British soldiers shot for cowardice during WW1, produced by the National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with 14-18 Now. 'Lost Light - Music From the 306’, an album of music from the trilogy was recorded and released in 2020.
In July 2022, Scottish Opera premiered Rubble, a brand new chamber opera created with Johnny McKnight, to celebrate 60 years of the company. In the same year, Williams performed with his own trio at Book Festivals and libraries across Scotland, partnering with Chamber Music Scotland, to bring a brand new collection of ‘Songs From The Last Page’ that showcase Scottish Literature, explore songwriting and text setting, and examine and uncover a simultaneity in elegy and regeneration.
An album of 'Songs from the Last Page' was released in August 2023, to co-incide with a week-long residency at the Scottish Story Telling Centre in Edinburgh as part of the Made in Scotland Showcase at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with tour dates at the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, Dundee Rep Theatre, and the Old Hairdressers in Glasgow.
Currently Gareth is working on a new musical theatre piece commissioned by Dundee Rep Theatre.