Monday, January 28, 2008

Julius P. Williams, African American Composer & Conductor

The African American composer, conductor and professor Julius Penson Williams was born in the Bronx, New York City, in 1954. He was educated at Lehman College of the City University of New York, Hartt School of Music and the Aspen School of Music. Williams has held faculty posts at several colleges and universities and is now Professor of Composition and Conducting at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He is also a co-director of the Videmus Recording Company. His website is and he is profiled at

Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is Professor of Music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. He has generously made his research entry on Julius Penson Williams available to this Website. Here is an excerpt on the conducting career of Williams: “His conducting debut was in Carnegie Hall, at the 1989 initial concert of the Symphony Saint Paulia. He has served as assistant conductor under Lukas Foss of the Brooklyn Philharmonic and American Symphony Orchestra. Artistic director of Spain’s Costa del Sol Festival. Conductor and composer of Connecticut Arts Awards on PBS and the Nutmeg Ballet Company. Artistic Director of the New York State Summer School of the Arts choral section and President at the University of Vermont. Guest at the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra in Yugoslavia. On faculty at Berklee.”

Williams conducted the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic's recording of his works
Is It True? (3:36) and Meditation from the Easter Celebration (5:54) with tenor Everett McCorvey on Troy 104 (1994). The liner notes observe: “The Cantata Easter Celebration was written in early 1993, as part of Williams' residency at Shenandoah University and Conservatory (Winchester, Virginia). There he served as Visiting Associate Professor and Jesse Ball duPont Scholar (academic year 1992-93). The Cantata is scored for orchestra, chorus, gospel choir, tenor, and dancers, and was premiered at Shenandoah, April 11, 1993.” “In addition to his symphonic compositions, Williams has written in a variety of mediums and genres, including dance, musical theater, opera and movies.”

The composer's Web site lists several performances of his works, including these: “He has served as Composer-in-Residence of Connecticut’s Nutmeg Ballet Company, which premiered his ballet,
Cinderella. His Norman Overture was premiered by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta. The opera Guinevere was performed at the Aspen Music Festival and at Dubrovnik Music Festival in Croatia. He is composer of the score for the film What Color is Love?, the score for the play In Dahomey and the choral piece A Journey to Freedom for the Reston Choral and Festival Orchestra in Virginia. The moving tribute to the victims of September 11, In Memorium was premiered by the Detroit Symphony. Maestro Williams has served as conductor-composer of the Connecticut Arts Award for Public Television. His film score for Lifetime TV’s Fighting for our Future won the Gracie Allen Documentary Award in 2003.

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