Composer Forum: Evan Williams

Thursday, March 14, 2024 at 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Lewis Music Library, Lewis Music Library 160 Memorial Drive

About the Composer Forum Series

The MIT Music & Theater Arts Composer Forum is a series of public presentations by composers from inside and outside of MIT. Hosted in the Lewis Music Library, the MTA Composer Forum Series gives the MIT Community an opportunity to engage with leading voices in every field of Composition. Past presenters include John Harbison, Julia Wolfe, Terry Riley, Don Byron, and others. 

Please join us for a light reception following the talk.


About the Speaker

Drawing from inspirations as diverse as Medieval chant to contemporary pop, the music of composer and conductor Evan Williams (b. 1988) explores the thin lines between beauty and disquieting, joy and sorrow, and simple and complex, while often tackling important social and political issues. Williams’ catalogue contains a broad range of work, from vocal and operatic offerings to instrumental works, along with electronic music.


He has been commissioned by notable performers and ensembles including the Cincinnati and Toledo Symphony Orchestras, Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra, Quince Ensemble, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and more, with further performances by members of the Detroit, Seattle, and National Symphonies, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the American Brass Quintet, The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” New Music Detroit, Fifth House Ensemble, Splinter Reeds, the Verb Ballets, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. His work has also been featured at festivals such as MATA, RED NOTE, Strange Beautiful Music, SEAMUS, the New Music Gathering, the Electroacoustic Barn Dance, the New York City Electronic Music Festival, and the New Music Festival at Bowling Green State University. Williams’ work can be heard on multiple commercial releases, including soprano Katherine Jolly’s critically acclaimed debut album Preach Sister, Preach. Gramophone Magazine described his song cycle Emily’s House as “wistful” and praised his settings of Emily Dickinson’s poetry as “rather beautifu[l].”

Williams has received awards and recognition from the American Prize, the National Federation of Music Clubs, ASCAP, Fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and in 2018, was chosen as the Detroit Symphony’s inaugural African-American Classical Roots Composer-in-Residence. He currently serves as the Steven R. Gerber Composer-in-Residence for the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

Williams completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition with a cognate in Orchestral Conducting at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. There, he studied with Michael Fiday, Mara Helmuth, and Douglas Knehans, and served as a teaching assistant in electronic music. He holds a Masters degree from Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, OH), and a Bachelors from the Conservatory of Music at Lawrence University (Appleton, WI). His other primary teachers have been Asha Srinivasan, Joanne Metcalf, Christopher Dietz, Mikel Kuehn, and Marilyn Shrude. He has also received instruction in festivals, masterclasses, and lessons from composers Julia Wolfe, Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, David Maslanka, Libby Larson, Evan Chambers, Stacy Garrop, Dan Visconti, and others. He has also trained at the Bard Conductors Institute and the Band Conducting and Pedagogy Clinic at the University of Michigan.

Originally from the Chicagoland area, Williams currently resides in Boston, MA, and serves as Assistant Professor of Composition at the Berklee College of Music, where he teaches composition, conducting, music technology, harmony, and counterpoint. He previously held teaching positions at Rhodes College, Lawrence University, Bennington College, and at The Walden School’s Young Musicians Program.

Event Type

Performing Arts

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Public, MIT Community, Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff

Events By School

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)


music, talk, Forum, composer



Free and Open to the Public

MIT Music and Theater Arts


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