Detroit Symphony Orchestra

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Music lecturer Evan Williams ’11 wins Detroit Symphony’s 2018 Classical Roots African American Composer Residency

Evan Williams, who is spending the 2017-18 academic year as a visiting lecturer in music in the composition department at Lawrence University, has been named the winner of the Detroit Symphony’s 2018 Classical Roots African American Composer Residency.

Evan Williams
Evan Williams ’11

Williams, a 2011 Lawrence graduate, was chosen from a national application process. He will be in residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Feb. 24-26. During his residency, he will conduct community outreach education with the civic ensembles of the DSO.

Highlighting his residence will be a performance of his composition “GRIME” performed during the Classical Roots Chamber Recital Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Detroit’s Plymouth United Church of Christ.

Written in 2013 for the Fresh, Inc. chamber music festival at UW-Parkside, “GRIME” is an eight-minute work for violin, viola, cello and double bass. Calling it a “confluence of seemingly disparate inspirations, including rock, spectralism, minimalism and modernist techniques,” Williams said the goal of the piece was to create a piece that would recreate the sound of a different instrument, in this case, an electric guitar with heavy distortion.

The work’s title came near the end of the composition process. Its working title was “GRIND” due to the harsh grinding sound that resulted from the molto sul ponticello and bow overpressure used in the work.

“In the search for a title, I wanted a word that began with G and also had an ‘edgy’ feel to it, given the rock inspiration,” Williams wrote in a blog post about the work. “I eventually decided against the word ‘grind,” as it held more hip hop and rap connotations for me. While ‘GRIME’ doesn’t hold any rock connotations that I am aware of, the title seemed to be more suited to the work.”

Prior to joining the Lawrence faculty, Williams spent a year as a composer fellow at Bennington College and taught in the Young Musicians Program at the Walden School in New Hampshire.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in theory/composition at Lawrence, Williams earned a master’s degree in composition from Bowling Green State University and a D.M.A in composition from the University of Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.