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James Williamson was born in Selby, North Yorkshire, UK (1984) and now resides near York with his wife Jodie, daughter Agnes and their cat Wendy. 

His works have been performed by various ensembles including: Psappha; Aurora Orchestra; Österreichische Symphoniker; Hebrides Ensemble; London Sinfonietta; CoMA London; Manson Ensemble; Ensemble Firebird; Galliard Ensemble; Croatian Philharmonic Orchestra; Pula Symphony Orchestra; Hebrides Ensemble; Lunar Saxophone Quartet; Delta Saxophone Quartet; Chimera Ensemble; SCAW Duo; Quatuor Diotima; Ligeti String Quartet; University of York Symphony Orchestra; Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra; Barry Webb (trombone); Rhodri Davis (harp); Kate Harrison-Ledger (piano); Anna Snow (voice); Ian Pace (piano), Franko Bozac (accordion), Paul Evernden (clarinet, Eos Ensemble) and Stephen Altoft (19-division trumpet). James was shortlisted for the Young Composers Workshop at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2006 for his solo harp piece 10 Pages, performed by Rhodri Davies. Music for Six received its premiere at Canterbury Sounds New 2007 followed by subsequent performances including a Park Lane Group Composers’ Platform.


He was commended for his Aurora Orchestra commission Chamber Concerto for the Royal Academy of Music Eric Coate’s Composition Prize. James won the inaugural Lunar Saxophone Quartet New Music Award in December 2007 with his piece

In Memoriam. This piece was recorded for the LSQ’s album ‘Flux’ released February 2011 by Signum Classics. This was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction. Franko Bozac and the Österreichischen Symphoniker performed James’ accordion concerto The Hole of Horcum in their 2014 “International Series” season, in Linz. The concerto was subsequently broadcast on Radio 3 Belgrade, Serbia. This piece will receive further performances by Franko and the Nuova Orchestra Da Camera Ferruccio Busoni in Italy and Croatia in October 2023.


James was also selected for Psappha Ensemble’s ‘writing for clarinet scheme’  with Don Goldberg which culminated in his piece Fault-Klang for bass clarinet which is available to view on Psappha’s YouTube Channel. This piece was subsequently recorded live in concert by Psappha ensemble and Broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Hear and Now’.  


James received the University of York's 'Lyons Celebration Award 2016/17' involving a new commission for the University of York Symphony Orchestra. The piece entitled Happy are they who dwell in your house was premiered in March 2018. Subsequently, this piece also won the Nicola LeFanu Composition Prize in 2018 and the live recording was later broadcast on Beethoven FM (Chile). His piece The Fifth Element was selected for publication for Composers Edition as part of James Turnbull's New Oboe Music Collection at the beginning of 2017. Current projects include an on-going collaboration with visual artist Romey T. Brough and accordionist Franko Bozac whereby he has written a set of five pieces responding to Romey's collages and will be premiered in October 2023.




James studied composition at the University of Huddersfield with Patrick Standford. Since completing his degree in 2005, James studied privately for a year with Bryn Harrison before heading to the Royal Academy of Music to study a Masters (with a contribution grant from the Lawrence Atwell’s Charity) with Philip Cashian. Whilst at RAM, he also received lessons from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Simon Bainbridge, Bent Sørenson and Hans Abrahamsen, amongst others. In 2019, James was awarded a PhD in Composition with from the University of York in 2019, supervised by Martin Suckling and with thanks to receiving the Terry Holmes Composition Scholarship from 2013 to 2017.

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