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Artistic Achievement Award 2013 - John Williams
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Born in Melbourne, Australia, John Williams can be regarded as a foremost ambassador of the guitar. He studied the instrument with his father in his early years. Later, he attended summer courses with Segovia at the Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and studied music at the Royal College of Music in London. By the early 1960s he had performed in London, Paris, Madrid, Japan, Russia, and the United States. He has since toured the world, playing solo concerts and with orchestra, and appears regularly on radio and TV. John Williams records for SONY Classical.

Among his collaborations with other musicians, those with Julian Bream, Itzhak Perlman, André Previn, Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, and Daniel Barenboim are particularly important. His other musical activities have included work with the groups SKY, John Williams and Friends, Attacca, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra with Paul Hart, the Chilean group Inti-Illimani, and various collaborations with Paco Peña and with Richard Harvey.

John Williams maintains a wide-ranging interest in contemporary music. Examples have included his recording of music by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu with the London Sinfonietta, an album featuring the music of Peter Sculthorpe and Nigel Westlake called From Australia, and his CD of music by the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer called The Black Decameron, which includes Brouwer’s Fourth Concerto. His many other recordings include several of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, concertos by Richard Harvey and Steve Gray, the Arpeggione Sonata by Schubert, Concerto Op. 30 by Giuliani with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, in which he plays an 1814 Guadagnini guitar; and the albums John Williams plays Vivaldi Concertos, The Great Paraguayan, John Williams plays the Movies, and The Guitarist (which includes his own Aeolian Suite with string orchestra). The highly successful Profile and The Seville Concert, both directed by David Thomas for London Weekend Television’s South Bank Show, are particular examples of John Williams’ enthusiasm for communicating music on television.

In 2001, Sony Classical released his CD entitled The Magic Box, in which his group John Williams and Friends presented adaptations of African music. This recording includes music from Senegal, Cameroon, Zaire, South Africa, Madagascar, and Cape Verde. The group toured the U.K., the United States, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Other recent releases by Sony Classical include his solo CD entitled El Diablo Suelto, a collection of Venezuelan music by composers including Figueredo, Sojo, Lauro, Fernández, and Gutierrez; and Places Between, a duo CD with jazz guitarist John Etheridge, recorded live in Dublin. John’s most recent release is the solo CD From a Bird, a collection of his own pieces and some traditional Irish tunes, available online from

John Williams’ duo with Richard Harvey has seen them travel throughout the U.K., Europe, and the Far East with their"World Tour” program. His "Together & Solo” program with John Etheridge includes original compositions from both artists, music from Africa and the United States, and a new commission by composer Paul Hart. In the 2009–10 season, John Williams and John Etheridge toured the U.K. and Europe. Williams gives solo recitals in the U.K. and Japan and tours the U.K. with the English Chamber Orchestra. In 2007, John Williams was presented with an Edison Lifetime Achievement award.

He plays often for films, such as The Deerhunter ("Cavatina”) and A Fish Called Wanda, and also plays tennis (badly), badminton (average), chess (quite good), table tennis (better) and likes talking (about anything). He lives in London.

2012 by Ben Verdery
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