Chris Williams is an Australian composer and conductor whose works have been performed throughout Australia, Europe, Britain and the United States by orchestras and ensembles including Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, London Musical Theatre Orchestra, Joyful Company of Singers, The Song Company, The Australian Voices, Cavaleri Quartet, Schola Cantorum, and Manchester Chamber Choir.
In 2022, Chris' new work I PRAY THE SEA commissioned by The Song Company, premiered in Newcastle and toured to Sydney and Melbourne. His concerto, CANTICUM NOVI MUNDI, commissioned by Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, premiered in 2021, performed by Dinah Woods with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, to critical acclaim.
Chris holds a Master’s in Composition from the University of Oxford and is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Chris was one of only six composers worldwide to be selected by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies to attend his Advanced Composition course at the Dartington International Summer School. His composition teachers have included Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Nigel Butterley, Kaija Saariaho, Robert Saxton, and John Supko.
Career highlights include a commission by New York’s Carnegie Hall where his work SAN-SHIH-FAN premiered to critical acclaim; and being awarded the Blake Society’s Tithe Grant for composition. This international prize culminated in the premiere of Chris’ A GOLDEN STRING at St James Piccadilly conducted by Aidan Oliver.
Chris won the Musica Per Archi international composition prize in 2021 and in 2022 was awarded best orchestration by the Chigiana Musical Academy, Siena, for his work with ORT (Orchestral della Toscana). He was also awarded the composition prize at the Australian International Chopin Competition and received a Sydney Theatre Award nomination for Best Original Score of a Mainstage Production for his work on CLOUD NINE for Sydney Theatre Company.
For theatre, Chris’ music includes: for Melbourne Theatre Company, scores for COSI (with Sydney Theatre Company), and DOLL’S HOUSE PART 2 directed by Sarah Goodes; CLOUD NINE and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM directed by Kip Williams (Sydney Theatre Company); FASCINATION (Miniaturists 50 at the Arcola Theatre); THE COLD CLEAR ELSEWHERE (Edinburgh Fringe Festival); HARVEST (Gettysburg College, USA); THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (Buskins, Worcester College Oxford); ORPHANS, EIGHT and LOVE’S LABOURS LOST (Rough-Hewn).
In 2019, Chris composed a new work for NINETEEN TO THE DOZEN, a program consisting of nineteen works from esteemed Australian composers presented by The Song Company which was performed at the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House. His work GROWTH IS FORM was performed for Gaudeamus Muziekweek in the Netherlands in 2017, and then in 2018, the festival performed an extended version of the same work. Chris’ collaboration with Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra CONVICT MONOLOGUES premiered in 2017 and was performed again by the orchestra in 2018. Chris was an invited composer at the Takefu International Music Festival in Japan and Gaudeamus Muziekweek in the Netherlands.
Chris has held positions as Compositional Techniques and Harmony Tutor at University of Oxford Music Faculty; Composer-in-residence with The Australian Voices; Creative Arts Fellow at National Library of Australia; and Music Librarian at the Central Music Library of the BBC. He is an Associate Artist at the Australian Music Centre. Chris is currently based in the United States, where he holds a composition fellowship to complete his PhD at Duke University.