INDIVIDUAL - SCAD ID - #148
Richard Williamson publishes mainly choral and keyboard music but also composes for other media. An alumnus of Illinois, Eastman, and Furman, he teaches at Anderson University. He has also worked in public education and church music.
My compositions reflect the populations I serve, namely, secondary school ensembles and churches, and university students and colleagues. Each has distinct needs and presents different problems. In educational writing, I strive to engage students with age-appropriate ideas through music that is challenging but attainable. Sometimes, in collaboration with a teacher, I incorporate specific technical features intended to move a group forward. When adjusting a piece’s technical level for young artists, it is important not to write down to them. Young artists are capable of serious thoughts, deep feelings, and delightful humor. My goal is to create works that are worthy of their efforts and will let them shine in performance.
Sacred music is at once deeply profound in its subject matter and highly practical in its application. My sacred works tend to point in one or the other of those directions. Works commissioned for special events such as holidays or institutional anniversaries may require greater performing resources and include some technical challenges for the sake of brilliance. Works intended for the week in, week out work of producing worship services are often shorter or simpler. The goal is to help volunteers present an inspirational musical offering in the time available and with the limitations they face. Such works also allow professional church musicians to allot their time and efforts more flexibly.
When writing for advanced students or colleagues, difficulty level is much less of a concern. Here, big ideas matter more. In vocal music, grappling with big ideas is most evident in the choice of text. Texts for my concert music—and even some educational pieces—deal with such issues as the environment, social justice, and the responsibility of the individual. My music without text is sometimes a response to unfairness or hypocrisy. There is often an element of humor or satire in my instrumental pieces. While I always hope to convey worthy ideas and expressions for myself, the most accurate summary of my work is that I try to use my skills to meet the needs of the people for whom I am writing.