Composer and songwriter Gareth Williams lives in Edinburgh, where he makes work that ranges from opera, theatre and songwriting to chamber and orchestral music. He is a Chancellor’s Fellow at Edinburgh College of Art, where he lectures in composition.
He seeks to find new participants and audiences for opera and music theatre with his work and to shed light on stories and communities that have been overlooked, exploring ideas of identity and vulnerability in his vocal writing.
His music is often site-specific and responsive, with performances happening in lighthouses, whisky distilleries, nuclear bunkers, and libraries. He creates award-winning work for companies such as Scottish Opera, Red Note Ensemble, National Theatre of Scotland, Ulster Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Tapestry Opera, Theatre Passe Muraille, Bridge Theatre, Hebrides Ensemble, Chamber Music Scotland, and Noise Opera.
He was the inaugural Composer in Residence at Scottish Opera from 2012 to 2015. During this time, he created a series of works, including Breath Cycle, where he created songs specifically for patients with Cystic Fibrosis at Gartnavel Royal Hospital, who are not allowed in the same room as one another due to the dangers of cross-infection. He returned to Scottish Opera in 2021 to revisit this project and continues to work with people living with a variety of conditions, such as Long Covid, Asphasia, and COPD, in Breath Cycle II. In 2022, he created the chamber opera ‘Rubble,’ commissioned to celebrate 60 years of Scottish Opera.
He self-released the concept album “Songs From the Last Page” in August 2023 – after creating and touring a collection of songs that set and transform the final lines of famous works of Scottish literature across UK Book Festivals. He is currently creating “A History of Paper,” a new musical theatre work for Dundee Rep theatre, with writer Oliver Emanuel, for premiere in 2024.
Photo by Kris Kesiak