Amy Williams coming to Mizzou in October for residency and concert

Composer and pianist Amy Williams is coming to Mizzou next month for a residency and concert.

Williams, who is an associate professor teaching composition and music theory at the University of Pittsburgh, will be on campus in Columbia on Wednesday, October 9 and Thursday, October 10.

While she’s at Mizzou, Williams (pictured) will make a presentation to composition students, give private lessons, and perform in a free concert featuring excerpts from John Cage’s “Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano” at 3:00 p.m. Thursday at Whitmore Recital Hall.

The daughter of two professional musicians, Williams grew up in Buffalo, NY, frequently hearing contemporary music and meeting composers such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, Lukas Foss, Elliott Carter, and more. She earned her undergraduate degree at Bennington College, and then completed both her master’s degree in piano performance and her Ph.D. in composition at the University at Buffalo. She previously taught at Bennington and Northwestern University before joining the Pittsburgh faculty in 2005.

One of Williams’ best-known works as a composer is the Cineshape series of chamber pieces inspired by different films, first performed in May 2016 by the JACK Quartet, flautist Lindsey Goodman, and percussionist Scott Christian, with video by Aaron Henderson.

“My performance influences my composition very directly — I think very much about the role of the performer, sometimes specifically (what would she or he want to play, what is his or her sound at the instrument), but also performative issues such as physicality and coordination,” Williams said in a 2015 interview. “And I analyze pieces that I play very much from a composer/theorist’s perspective. So it works both ways.”

Her compositions have been presented at renowned contemporary music venues in the United States, Asia, Australia, and Europe, including Ars Musica in Belgium, Gaudeamus Music Week in the Netherlands, Dresden New Music Days in Germany, Festival Aspekte is Austria, Festival Musica Nova in Brazil, and many more.

Williams’ works have been performed by prominent soloists and ensembles such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Aleph, Ensemble Dal Niente, Wet Ink, Talujon, Empyrean Ensemble, California E.A.R. Unit, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), pianist Ursula Oppens, and numerous others. Her compositions also have been featured on two “portrait” CDs of solo and chamber works released by Albany Records, “Crossings: Music for Piano and Strings” (2013) and “Cineshape and Duos” (2017).

Williams formed the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo with Helena Bugallo while both were graduate students at the University at Buffalo. The duo has been featured at major contemporary music festivals and series in Europe and the Americas, including the Ojai Festival, Miller Theatre, Symphony Space, Le Poisson Rouge, Musica Contemporanea Ciclos de Conciertos in Buenos Aires, Festival Attacca in Stuttgart, and many more. They have released five CDs, featuring the music of Conlon Nancarrow, Morton Feldman and Edgard Varèse, György Kurtág, and Igor Stravinsky.

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