Originally from Armagh, Gareth Williams moved to Glasgow after studying music at Queen’s University. In 2008 he was awarded his doctorate from St. Andrews’ University. He taught composition at the RCS until 2012, and he now works as a freelance composer. His work has been featured in the Edinburgh Festival, St. Magnus Festival, 5:15, Tete a Tete Opera Festival, Opera to Go, and the York Late Music Festival. Prizes include the Dinah Wolf Prize for Composition, and his piece “Search Engines” was winner of the 2000 Great British Conservatoire Composers Forum. 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.
Since 2006, Gareth Williams has written many short operas. Three of these operas, commissioned and premiered by Tapestry Opera in Canada in 2009, were performed in Russia in 2010 at the War and Peace Conference. In 2009, Gareth was on residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, where he wrote two large music theatre pieces - “A Short Treatise on Love and Miracles” for the Sound Festival in Aberdeen, and “Gethsemane” for the 2010 Plug Festival.
In 2010, he returned to Canada to create three short operas in collaboration with Canadian writers, and these were performed in the Opera Briefs festival in Toronto that year. In Scotland, Noise Opera commissioned and performed “The Sloans Project” to great acclaim in 2011. This work was re-staged as “Glasgow Pub Operas” by Tapestry New Opera in Toronto in November 2011, and a new piece is now being developed for Tapestry’s 2014 season.
Currently, Gareth is Composer in Residence at Scottish Opera, and his latest opera, “Elephant Angel”, is touring Scotland and Northern Ireland. Another opera, “Last One Out”, will be premiered at the Sound Festival in 2012 in Fraserburgh Lighthouse. With the support of the Wellcome Trust, Gareth has created a project at the Respiratory ward at Gartnavel hospital, where he will create songs and opera specifically for patients with Cystic Fibrosis. The material will be bespoke to lung capacity, range, and ability, and the effects of singing on respiratory health will be monitored and measured. As the patients can not physically spend time together, most of this project will be developed and presented online.
In 2013/14, an opera adapted from “The Rocking Horse Winner”, by D H Lawrence is planned with Canadian writer Anna Chatterton, as well as new orchestral pieces for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera.