University of Pittsburgh

Amy Williams

Portrait
Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Admissions
PhD, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1999
Office: 
208 Music Building
Phone: 
412-624-4120
amywill [at] pitt [dot] edu

Fields

Composition; Piano; Music Theory; Contemporary Music Studies.

Profile

I am a composer and I am a new music pianist. The two are inseparable in my artistic objectives. I often write pieces with specific performers in mind, exploiting their individual technical abilities and qualities. My sound arises from a modernist aesthetic but also benefits from a polystylistic approach that is distinctly American. My compositions have been inspired by a diversity of interests, both non-musical and musical: photography (verre-glaz for chamber orchestra), astronomy (Binary Stars for two pianos), James Brown (JB Montage for brass ensemble), philosophy (Univocity for saxophone quartet), Art Tatum (Abstracted Art for piano duet), film (the Cineshape chamber series), painting (Richter Textures for string quartet). Current projects include a new work for a consortium of pianists (the final in a set of pieces inspired by films, entitled Cineshape) and a commission for the Bent Frequency Duo.

Writing chamber music is of particular interest to me, perhaps from the experience of being an active chamber musician.  I am a member of the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo, an ensemble dedicated to giving dynamic performances of challenging and under-performed repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries. The Duo’s recordings, mostly with the German label Wergo, include the world premiere recordings of Stravinsky’s arrangements of his Septet and Movements (2007), numerous Nancarrow works (2004 and 2011), pieces by Erik Oña (2007), and Edgard Varèse’s recently discovered arrangement for two pianos, eight hands of his monumental Amériques. I see this artistic duality as essential and integrated, allowing for a full creative experience and world view, which I eagerly share with my students.

Recent Courses

  • Composition and Analysis Tutorial
  • Musical Analysis
  • Music Theory 1, 2, 4
  • Composition Seminar
  • Music Since 1945

Selected Honors/Awards

Central Research Development Fund, University of Pittsburgh (2014).

Creative Development Grant, Heinz and Pittsburgh Foundations (2012).

Innovation in Education Award (2011) from the Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.

ASCAPlus Awards (2004-2012).

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Artist Opportunity Grants (2006, 2008, 2011).

Fromm Music Foundation Commission (2009) for the JACK Quartet.

George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship for Music Composition (2008).

New Ariel Composition Competition-second prize (2007).

Audio Inversions Composition Prize (2006).

Bellagio Study and Conference Center residency (2006).

Wayne Peterson Prize in Music Composition (2002).

Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany) fellowship (2000–2001).

Selected Recent Compositions

Switch (2014) for piano four-hands. Commissioned by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation for the New Muse Piano Duo.

Flood Lines (2013) for orchestra. Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Dream Landscape (2012) for percussion quartet.  Commissioned by Talujon.

Falling (2012) for piano.  Commissioned by Brian Katz for the film, Roman Buildings.

Richter Textures (2011) for string quartet.  Commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation for the JACK Quartet.

Brigid’s Flame (2009) for piano or organ.  Commissioned by the Music and Architecture Project at Calvary Episcopal Church.

Crossings (2009) for piano duet.  Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society.

Pulse Stream (2007) for full orchestra. Commissioned by the Music Library Association.

First Lines (2006) for flute and piano. Commissioned by Andrea Ceccomori and Emanuele Arciuli.

Sala Luminosa (2004) for piano and chamber orchestra. Commissioned by the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra.

Composition Recordings

Crossings: Music for Piano and Strings by Amy Williams, works performed by the JACK Quartet, Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo and pianist Jeffrey Jacob (Albany, 2013).

Univocity, performed by the H2 Saxophone Quartet (Blue Griffin, 2012).

Astoria, performed by Amy Briggs (piano) (Navona, 2010).

Astoria, performed by Jeffrey Jacobs (piano) (New Ariel, 2010).

First Lines, performed by Andrea Ceccomori (flute)/Elitza Harbova (piano) (VDM, 2008).

Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo Recordings

As Fast As Possible (Wergo, 2010).

Ginastera: Cantata Para America Magica (Neos, 2010)

Feldman/Varése (Wergo, 2009).

Erik Oña Portrait (Wergo, 2007).

Stravinsky In Black and White (Wergo, 2007).

Jorge Liderman: Wind-Up Toys (Albany, 2005).

Conlon Nancarrow: Studies and Solos (Wergo, 2004).

Chamber Music Recordings

Cornelius Cardew: Material (Hat-Art, 2004).

John Cage: Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (Hat-Art, 2002).

Activities

External Examiner for Composition Program, University College Cork, Ireland (2012-present).

Advisory Board Member, Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music (2007–present).

Board Member, Music on the Edge concert series, University of Pittsburgh (2005–present).

Member of the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo (1995–present).

Composition Mentor, Duluth Symphony Orchestra (2003–2004).

Assistant Director, June In Buffalo Festival (1993–2000).

Program Director, North American New Music Festival (1992–1993).

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