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“Williams has a sure sense of colour and the courage to risk the rumbustious; his lightly scored cadenza, with oboe sliding and bending over whispered lower strings, dealt out a rare and mysterious beauty.” – NZ Herald 20.6.05 ‘Piercing the Vault’ at Auckland Town Hall


Michael Williams is a well-known figure in New Zealand composition. He has received commissions from most of the country’s major musical institutions including the NZSO, NBR New Zealand Opera and Chamber Music New Zealand and his music is regularly broadcast on Radio New Zealand Concert. He has recorded a number of works through the Atoll label.
His music covers a wide range of genres including chamber music, orchestral, concerti and opera.
Polystylistic in his approach to composition, many influences can be heard in his music from Gregorian chant to the use of pitch class sets.
Michael maintains an interest in the digital manipulation of acoustic instruments which is evident in a number of his works.
His Chamber Opera The Prodigal Child has enjoyed great success with productions in Taranaki, Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton and is now available on CD.

Piercing the Vault for oboe and orchestra was commissioned by the NZSO in 2005 and has toured the country twice since.

His Triple Concerto which was a commission from the Opus Chamber Orchestra with the New Zealand Chamber Soloists was premiered in September 2008.

Michael’s latest work The Juniper Passion is an opera in three acts based on the battle of Montecassino Italy in WWII and was recently released through the Atoll label. This work is scheduled for its premier live performance on location in Cassino Italy as well as Rome in 2013.

His work is in demand internationally including Vietnam, Italy and Ireland.

Piercing the Vault was recently performed in Vietnam with the HBSO under the baton of Colin Metters who is director of conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Current projects include a piece for harp and electronics for NZSO harpist Carolyn Mills; a saxophone quartet for Italian group Saxophia and a piece flute, viola and harp for Irish flautist Bill Dowdall.

He is co-founder and artistic director of the University of Waikato contemporary performance ensemble ‘Okta’
Michael is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Waikato’s Conservatorium of Music.

Source: Michael Williams, July 2012

Selected Works

Behind the Parapet for piano trio, with effects pedals and amplification  
Kala Danda for amplified alto flute with backing track  
May My Shadow Never Depart for clarinet in B flat and bass clarinet  
Piercing the Vault for orchestra and solo oboe  
The Prodigal Child a chamber opera  
When We Fell for flute with digital effects and backing track  


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