Alan Edward Williams

Composer/ cyfansoddwr


Sometimes I’m asked for a selection of pieces to get to know me as a composer and collaborator. Here are seven things which show what I do (click on the titles to link to audio/video):

Wonder: a Scientific Oratorio – You Told Me

wonder image

Wonder is an oratorio which tells the scientific story of the formation of the universe from an astronomical point of view, and was a collaboration with Joddrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. It was commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic and performed by them, the BBC Singers and by Salford Choral Society in 2009. In this duet section tenor Stephen Jeffes is singing the part of an astronomy PhD student observing the universe and wondering about mortality. He’s answered by the astronomer, sung by Sian Menna.

 The Kraken Wakes

kraken wakes image

This was a co-production for BBC Radio Drama and the BBC Philharmonic orchestra. I collaborated with writer Val McDermid and producer/director Justine Potter to create a 2 hour radio drama including 28 minutes of specially composed “film music”. Sections of it also appeared in the 2015 BBC Proms.

 The Arsonists

ArsonistsposterThe world’s first opera written for a Northern English accent, The Arsonists tells the story of characters in a former mining town in south Yorkshire and was a collaboration with poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan. It was premiered by an ensemble from the BBC Philharmonic and Heritage Opera, conducted by Clark Rundell, in 2017.

Stefan and Lotte in Paradise

stefan and lotte

A chamber opera composed in collaboration with Marcos Lucas, and premiered by Psappha and Jeremy Huw Williams, Richard Strivens and Zoe Milton Brown in 2012. It tells the story of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig and his exile with his wife Lotte in Brazil during the second world war.

The Devil’s Squeezebox

The piano is pretending to be a wheezy old accordion. This was recorded by Richard Casey (formerly of Psappha) at the contemporary piano weekend, Paris, 2012.

 Advices and Queries

trio aporia

This is a piece written for the contemporary music Baroque group Trio Aporia, consisting of Stephen Preston (Baroque flute), Richard Boothby (viola da gamba) and Jane Chapman (harpsichord), with me operating the digital audio workstation.

The piece presents musical material derived from the soundscapes recorded in Brigflatts Quaker meeting house, and hence features quite long passages of silence. There’s a fairly lengthy tape introduction, so listen from about a minute in. Advices and Queries was performed at the New Music North West Festival in 2013, and in October 2014 at the Royal College of Music and at Kings College London’s Underground Festival , as well as at Audiograft, Oxford (Holywell Music Room), 2015.

Centre Periphery

This piece was actually premiered by Tim Williams on cimbalom at Die Alte Schmiede, Vienna in 2012, and is a collaboration with producer, engineer and sound artist Brendan Williams (digital manipulation). This version is a piano version, with me on piano. The piece recreates a journey I used to do a lot between Budapest and a village in Transylvania.