Job title: Chancellor's Fellow

Role: Programme Director - MMus Composition

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 2429


Research outputs: Dr Gareth Williams on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Gareth is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the Reid School of Music, since 2014. He is the musical director of NOISE opera where he creates site responsive and community specific work, which targets audiences not immediately associated with opera. As a composer of opera and music theatre, he seeks to find new participants and collaborators for new work, and to explore ideas of vulnerability - on stage and through his vocal writing. 

Gareth has created work for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the National Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Opera, Tapestry Opera, the Red Note Ensemble, The Gaspard Piano Trio, the Maxwell Quartet, and many others. His work has been frequently performed and discussed on BBC television and radio.

He was Composer in Residence at Scottish Opera from 2011 to 2014. There he created several operas and music:

  • The King's Conjecture  (Librettist Bernard MacLaverty) 2010
  • White (Librettist Margaret McCartney) 2011
  • Elephant Angel  (Librettist Bernard MacLaverty) 2012
  • Last One Out  (Librettist David Brock) 2012
  • The Rocking Horse Winner  (Librettist Anna Chatterton) 2015
  • The Song, the Stars and the Blossom  (Text from an interview with Dennis Potter) 2014

Several of his music theatre works were created for specific spaces.  Last One Out was premiered at the top of Fraserburgh Lighthouse, Hirda was created to premiere in Shetland, the Sloans Project was created for the oldest bar in Glasgow - Sloans - where it is bi-annually performed, and 306:Dawn was premiered in a barn in Perthshire, at dawn.

With the support of the Wellcome Trust and Creative Scotland, Gareth created ‘Breath Cycle’ (with libretto by David Brock) at the Respiratory ward at Gartnavel hospital, where he created songs and opera specifically for patients with Cystic Fibrosis. The material was bespoke to lung capacity, range, and ability, and the effects of singing on respiratory health were monitored and measured. As the patients can not physically spend time together, most of this project was developed and presented online.

Breathcycle website

Upcoming Projects

  • A continuation of the story of 306:Dawn, called 306:Day, which explores the lives of the women of the anti war movement in Glasgow during WW1. This is a 2017 co -commission/production by the National Theatre of Scotland, Horsecross Theatre, and Stellar Quine Theatre company.
  • A collaboration with indie band, Admiral Fallow, and owner of Glasgow distillery, Liam Hughes, which will result in a new opera, co composed with Admiral Fallow, which will tour distilleries and Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2018.
  • SingBreatheSing - A large scale international project for people with Cystic Fibrosis, which builds on the work of Breath Cycle.

PhD Supervision Topics

  • Community
  • Composition
  • Contemporary
  • Music and health
  • Opera/Theatre,
  • Twentieth century