Gareth Williams


Originally from Armagh, Gareth moved to Glasgow after studying music at Queenʼs 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, RTE Television, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, and CBC Radio 2 in Canada.

Currently, Gareth is Composer in Residence at Scottish Opera, and he has created several works in this post.  ‘Elephant Angel’ (with libretto by Bernard McLaverty) toured Scotland and Northern Ireland in Autumn 2012. Another opera, ‘Last One Out’ (with libretto by Johnny McKnight), was premiered at the Sound Festival in 2012 in Fraserburgh Lighthouse. ‘Hand’ (with libretto by Johnny McKnight) was created for the 2013 Opera Highlights tour.


Professional highlights

With the support of the Wellcome Trust, Gareth has created ‘Breath Cycle’ (with libretto by David Brock) at the Respiratory ward at Gartnavel hospital, where he is currently making songs and opera specifically for patients with Cystic Fibrosis. The material is bespoke to lung capacity, range, and ability, and the effects of singing on respiratory health are being monitored and measured. As the patients can not physically spend time together, most of this project is being 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, a new piece for Soprano and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, and a piece for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is being created for 2015.