A multiple-prize winning and critically acclaimed conductor and accompanist, William Vann is equally at home on the podium or at the piano. Gramophone, reviewing Purer than Pearl, Albion Records’ 2016 disc of Vaughan Williams song, reserved “a special word of praise for William Vann’s deft pianism”; his recent revival of Hubert Parry’s oratorio Judith at Royal Festival Hall “was an unalloyed triumph for William Vann…he had complete command of the score and evident belief in the music” (Seen and Head International). His studio recording of Judith was released on Chandos Records in March 2020 and was subsequently shortlisted in the 2020 Gramophone Awards. William is the is the founder and Artistic Director of the London English Song Festival and the Director of Music at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Born in Bedford, he was a Chorister at King’s College, Cambridge and a Music Scholar at Bedford School. He subsequently read law and took up a choral scholarship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was taught the piano by Peter Uppard, and studied piano accompaniment at the Royal Academy of Music with Malcolm Martineau and Colin Stone.
His many prizes for piano accompaniment include the Wigmore Song Competition Jean Meikle Prize for a Duo (with Johnny Herford), the Gerald Moore award, the Royal Overseas League Accompanists’ Award, a Geoffrey Parsons Memorial Trust award, the Concordia-Serena Nevill Prize, the Association of English Singers and Speakers Accompanist Prize, the Great Elm Awards Accompanist Prize, the Sir Henry Richardson Scholarship and the Hodgson Fellowship in piano accompaniment at the RAM.
William has collaborated across the world with a vast array of singers and instrumentalists, among them Sir Thomas Allen CBE, Mary Bevan, Katie Bray, Allan Clayton, Sarah Fox, James Gilchrist, Thomas Gould, Guy Johnston, Jennifer Johnston, Jack Liebeck, Aoife Miskelly, Ann Murray DBE, Matthew Rose, Kathryn Rudge, Brindley Sherratt, Nicky Spence, Toby Spence, Andrew Staples, Henry Waddington, Kitty Whately, Roderick Williams, the Benyounes and Navarra Quartets, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music and the London Mozart Players. Recent performances have included appearances at Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, the Royal Opera House, Sage, Gateshead and St John’s, Smith Square, at the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Oxford Lieder and Machynlleth Festivals, the Northern Ireland Festival of Voice (broadcast on Radio 3) and abroad in France, Germany (on live ZDF television), Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa (National Arts Festival) and Sweden. His discography includes recordings with Albion, Champs Hill, Chandos, Delphian, Etcetera, Navona and SOMM, including a recent ground-breaking four-disc set of Vaughan Williams folk song settings on Albion with Mary Bevan, Nicky Spence, Roderick Williams and Jack Liebeck.
In addition to his performances of standard song repertoire, he has also either commissioned or given the first performances of new English songs and song cycles by several English composers, including Christian Alexander, Joseph Atkins, Martin Eastwood, Ian Venables, David Nield and Graham Ross (the latter two at Wigmore Hall). He recently conducted Roderick Williams and the London Mozart Players performing his own arrangement for chamber orchestra of George Butterworth’s Six Songs from A Shropshire Lad.
He is an Associate of the RAM, Musical Director of Dulwich Choral Society, a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, a Trustee of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society, a Samling Artist, a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, the Co-Chairman of Kensington and Chelsea Music Society, the Artistic Director of Bedford Music Club, the Guest Conductor of the English Chamber Choir and a regular conductor and vocal coach at the Dartington and Oxenfoord International Summer Schools.
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