James Williamson was born in Selby, North Yorkshire, UK (1984) and now resides in York with his wife Jodie, daughter Agnes and their cat Wendy. His performances and collaborations with ensembles and performers include the London Sinfonietta, Lunar Saxophone Quartet, Delta Saxophone Quartet, Manson Ensemble, National Theatre, CoMA London, Aurora Orchestra, Galliard Ensemble, Ensemble Firebird, Croatian Philharmonic Orchestra, University of Pula Symphonic Orchestra, Österreichischen Symphoniker, Quatour Diotima, Barry Webb (trombone), Franko Bozac (accordion) and was commissioned Modicum Momentum for percussionist Sarah Mason for the inaugural Kammer Klang series in 2008. James was also 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 RAM Eric Coate’s Composition Prize. James also 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. Recent works include String Quartet No.1, Erratic which was workshopped by Quatuor Diotima and new piece Fault-Klang for Bass Clarinet, written for Dov Goldberg as part of Psappha Ensemble’s ‘writing for clarinet scheme’. This scheme culminated in a day of filming on Good Friday 2016 and the finished film is available to view on Psappha’s YouTube Channel.
More recently, James received the University of York's 'Lyons Celebration Award 2016/17' involving a new commission for the University of York Symphony Orchestra. The new piece entitled Happy are they who dwell in your house will premiere in March 2018. 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. In June 2017, SCAW (Sarah Watts, bass clarinet/Anthony Clare, piano) premiered new piece Lone Yellow. Current projects include on-going collaborations with visual artist Romey T. Brough and a collaboration with pianist Kate Harrison-Ledger.
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, supervised by Martin Suckling and with thanks to receiving the Terry Holmes Composition Scholarship from 2013 to 2017.