Main content

Composer Conversations: Ian Morgan-Williams

Find out more about the inspiring composers taking part in this year’s Composition: Wales in our new series called ‘Composer Conversations’.

Want to know more about the composers taking part in Composition: Wales 2021? We did, so we created this weekly series of Q&As!

Welcome to another edition of ‘Composer Conversations’. This week we speak to Wrexham-born composer Ian Morgan-Williams, who wrote his piece Canzomi d’Amore da Lontano – Cavatina for Small Orchestra from his home in Llandyssil.

NOW: Why did you decide to submit a piece of music to Composition: Wales this year?

Ian: My daughter, who is also a composer, sent the details to me. I had preliminary sketches for this piece in short score and completed it over the next two weeks for the required instrumentation.

NOW: How does it feel to be one of the shortlisted composers?

Ian: Surprising!

NOW: How did your friends and family react when you told them?

Ian: They were happy for me.

NOW: What has the process been like for you so far, and what have been the challenges?

Ian: The process has been unusual for everyone involved because of this year’s necessary and ongoing restrictions. I have been impressed by how the BBC NOW teams have handled this disruption to their plans, and how they’ve succeeded in creating different opportunities as a consequence.

NOW: That’s good to hear. What was it like meeting up the other composers and mentors?

Ian: The initial ‘meeting the players’ session was informative, and the two meetings with Sarah Lianne and Gavin have uncovered some useful, pragmatic advice. For me, meeting with Ryan was very encouraging. I was impressed by the level of detail he brought to the conversation and how well he knew the music I’d written. I was allowed to feel as if I hadn’t been barking up the wrong tree for the last very-nearly-fifty years...! As far as challenges are concerned, I can honestly say it’s been several decades since I last proof-read a score quite so diligently.

NOW: What do you hope to achieve from taking part in Composition: Wales this year?

Ian: I hope to learn something about my music, and about the difference between writing for amateur or youth ensembles and professional players.

NOW: How do you hope people feel when they hear your piece for the first time?

Ian: If I were to have any specific hope of an audience, I suppose it might be intrigue. I’ve long given up predicting the myriad experiences an audience might bring to a performance. Each component is different; I anticipate each will respond differently.

NOW: What would you say to encourage other composers to take part in Composition: Wales in the future?

Ian: I would really encourage the ‘more mature’ among the world of experienced, but perhaps not widely-known, composers to submit some music that they’ve written – something that they believe represents what they are capable of doing. For people like me (I’m 58), such opportunities seldom come bounding towards the inbox. Grab them when they do!

NOW: Thanks so much Ian - is there anything else you would like to add?

Ian: I suppose it goes without saying that I am really, really, really looking forward to hearing BBC NOW play my music. But I am. I would also like to thank all at BBC NOW who have made, and are making, this happen. What an incredible team of professional and generous individuals they are…!

You can follow Ian on Twitter at: @IanMW_composer