Benjamin Williams is a composer in central Mississippi and an Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Mississippi College. Raised in Northeast Ohio, Williams earned degrees in Music Composition from The University of Akron (B.M and M.M.) and The Ohio State University (D.M.A.). Williams also performs chamber music locally with the Mockingbird Trio and with the jazz ensemble Brick Street Trio. He is married to violinist Emily Williams.

Williams has been performed by The Cleveland Chamber Symphony, The University of Akron Chamber Choir and the Ohio State University Symphonic Band. Recent performances include the NACUSA National Conference, UCM New Music Festival, The Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference, Electronic Music Midwest Festival, Denison New Music Festival, Kentucky New Music Festival and the University of Nebraska New Music Festival. Williams was the 20089 Composer-in-Residence with the Ohio State University Symphony and the 201314 Composer-in-Residence for the Premiere Orchestral Institute in Jackson, Mississippi.

He has won the Johnstone Woodwind Master Series III Competition and the APSU Annual Young Composers Competition. Williams has also been finalist in the Ithaca College Choral Composition Contest and a National Federation of Music Clubs recipient of the ASCAP/Victor Herbert Award. Recent commissions include Voices of Canton, Inc., the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra and the University of Akron Men's Chorus.

Benjamin Williams serves as editor of the SCI Newsletter and has been an editor for the The Ohio State Online Music Journal. He has also served as the conference manager for an SCI Student National Conference.



Trappings of Boyhood

PDF score

Trappings of Boyhood is the first piece I have written specifically for saxophonist Michael Torres, but I also had the pleasure of receiving the premier of my concerto for alto saxophone with chamber winds and percussion, Feast of Michaelmas, by this incredibly creative and adept performer that I am happy to call 'friend.'

The three main movements of this piece capture a little bit of boyhood fun of the intrepid explorer or hero whether at play, in dreams or by thought. In some sense, the intervening 'Interludes' seemed necessary after the boundless energy wrapped up in each moment of music as if unable to be contained merely within the confines of a double bar-line!

This piece is also the result of me simply having some fun with some lively rhythms and melodies borrowing from jazz and rock and everything in between. As the angular and punchy theme of the first movement winds down, a sort of 'bell-tolling' call reins in the energy for a dream-like second movement of fantasy. Again, the motion picks up for the rollicking final movement of these Trappings of Boyhood.

The Incarnate Word

PDF score

Wendell Berry has an incredible ability to bring together the divine and the mundane in a comfortable way that makes it apparent that he experiences one as an extension of the other. I was thankful for the opportunity that came about to interact with Berry's poetry in a musical setting when asked by my colleague Jamie Meaders to compose a piece for the Mississippi College Singers. Little did I how much I myself would come to better appreciate the continuum of the sacred and the everyday as I meditated on the truths of The Incarnate Word.

The text of this piece comes from one of Berry's "Sabbaths" collections written on his solitary Sunday walks around his farm in northern Kentucky. The reality of the incarnation of the Word—just as the apostle John also described this miraculous event in his gospel—is incredible in light of the magnificent holiness of God in comparison with the fallen world in which we live. And yet, God lives and dwells among us; still speaking; ever present. The world around us testifies to Him in our every day experience.

Without words, this piece begins with a simple melody played on a solo violin. As the melody continues to unfurl, the choir also enters without words. Berry's simple yet profound text is finally made manifest as it retraces the pastoral harmonies and melodies of the opening phrases. Whether in word or in the beauty of music, God and his truth continues to speak on.