Nathan Williamson (b.1978) is a pianist, composer and artistic director. Alongside regular solo, chamber and concerto performances, Nathan is in demand for new work from a wide variety of artists both at home and abroad. He also stages and facilitates projects at local and national level, ranging from collaborations on new repertoire, performances for the concert hall and theatre, and music-making activities for musicians of all ages and abilities.
Nathan’s career has led to performances at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, De Doelen, Barbican Centre, Purcell Room, LSO St Luke’s, and the Aldeburgh, Lucerne, Bolzano and Spoleto festivals, and collaborations with artists including Claire Bloom, James Gilchrist, Guy Johnston, Arisa Fujita, Linda Merrick, The Gryphon Trio, Njabulo Madlala, Boris Kucharsky, Alexander Baillie, Ensemble Endymion, the Allegri and Sacconi Quartets, as well as working alongside numerous living composers in performances of their work. Since 2016 Nathan has been a member of the renowned new music ensemble Piano Circus who, alongside their position as artists-in-residence at Brunel University London, have commissioned over 100 new works from leading composers and undertake regular international tours.
Nathan celebrated Beethoven’s 250th anniversary in 2020 with a cycle of the complete Piano Concertos with the Prometheus Orchestra at Aldeburgh. The first four concertos were performed over a weekend in February, but the ‘Emperor’ Concerto, originally scheduled for October, has been postponed.
October 2020 will see the release of the first volume of ‘100 Years of British Song’ on SOMM Recordings, a three CD project with the tenor James Gilchrist of British music including premiere recordings of work by Gustav Holst, Doreen Carwithen, Elizabeth Maconchy, John Woolrich, Geoffrey Poole, and Nathan’s own songs, as well as work by Frank Bridge, Alan Bush, Rebecca Clarke, Madeleine Dring, Peter Dickinson, Ivor Gurney, William Alwyn, and Alan Rawsthorne.
Nathan’s debut recording, Brahms and Schubert: Late Piano Works, was reviewed by Donald Sturrock as ‘a truly electrifying debut from a musician with a rare marriage of thoughtfulness and passion… I doubt this Sonata [Schubert D.959] has ever had a more powerful advocate.’ His first CD for SOMM, Great American Sonatas (2017), was hailed by Musical Opinion as ‘a landmark in recordings of American Piano Music’ and his second disc, Colour and Light, of British 20th century piano works, was chosen as Album of the Month in International Piano Quarterly: ‘No praise could be high enough of Williamson’s performances… Whether in the dream-world of the Delius Nocturne or in the fire and ice of the Herschel Hill Toccata, Williamson unearths musical treasure beyond price’ (Bryce Morrison). Both solo recordings, along with a disc of British 20th century works with violinist Fenella Humphreys for Lyrita (2017), also received 5 star reviews in Classical Music, BBC Music Magazine and Musical Opinion.
Nathan’s own work Trans-Atlantic Flight of Fancy is featured on NOW Ensemble’s album Dreamfall (New Amsterdam Records) and Homecoming, a commission for violinist Piotr Szewczyk as part of his Violin Futura project, was recorded on Navona Records following dozens of performances by Szewczyk and other violinists worldwide.
Other recent compositions include The little that was once a man, a song cycle to texts by Bryan Heiser, premiered by James Gilchrist and the composer, and a major new Sonata for cello and piano was commissioned and premiered by Charles Watt and the composer at the 2018 Alwyn Music Festival. A short children’s opera, Machine Dream, commissioned by Mahogany Opera, has been performed in numerous primary schools across the UK in the last 12 months as part of the ground-breaking ‘Snappy Operas’ project. Other recent commissions include works for the Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra, Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, Bury St Edmund’s Cathedral, Mariko Brown and Julian Jacobson, and Ensemble Endymion. A cycle of String Quartets has led to premieres in the UK and US by the Tin Alley and Barbirolli Quartets. Nathan has also been commissioned several works for younger and amateur performers by Pro Corda and Music Works chamber music courses, Rugby School, Waveney and Blyth Arts, and the Chamber Music 2000 project.
Nathan studied with Malcolm Singer and Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, one of only a handful of students to ever graduate with a first in two disciplines. He won a scholarship to Yale University, where his principal teachers were Ezra Laderman, Martin Bresnick, Michael Friedmann and Joan Panetti, to whom he was appointed deputy on her revolutionary ‘Hearing’ programme of ear-training and aural analysis. Further postgraduate studies followed with Robert Saxton at Oxford University, before a period of teaching at the Yehudi Menuhin School.
Nathan now lives in the town of Southwold, on the Suffolk coast, where he founded and directs the Southwold Music Trust, seeking to make music a central part of the local community through performance and education initiatives with musicians of all abilities, and its sister organisation, the Southwold Concert Series, which has staged some 50 events in local venues since 2008. Nathan is also director of the Alwyn Music Festival for 2019 and 2020 (now 2021), which stages concerts with a particular slant on British 20th century and contemporary music at various venues on the Suffolk coast.
He is married to Daisy, a music therapist, and together with their two young children they love nothing more than heading straight out onto the beaches and beautiful countryside which surround their home.