Michael Solomon Williams
I am a postgraduate researcher in the School of Music at the University of Leeds supervised by Stan Erraught, Dr Diane Morgan in the School of Cultural Studies and Dr Emily Payne. I am the 2021–24 recipient of the Stanley Burton Research Scholarship, with my research funded by the Stanley and Audrey Burton 1960 Charitable Trust. The legacy of the Burton family, with their dedication both to the arts and to the promotion of international peace and intercultural cooperation, serves as a significant inspiration for my work.
I am returning to academia and to my alma mater following an extensive career as a performing and recording artist, having worked for many years as a tenor soloist and with groups such as the Academy of Ancient Music, London Voices, Monteverdi Choir, Aurora Orchestra, Le Concert d’Astrée, Les Arts Florissants, Les Elements, Musicatreize, Stradivaria and Ensemble Matheus. As a co-founder of Dame Emma Kirkby’s Dowland Works I specialise in solo, ensemble and reimagined interpretations of Dowland and his contemporaries, coaching singers on the lute song course at Benslow Music with Jacob Heringman alongside Emma and Clare Wilkinson, also teaching singers of all ages from primary to university, being Visiting Lecture of Singing at the University of Southampton until 2021, and directing choirs from childrens’ choirs, to community choirs, refugee groups, opera choruses and chamber choirs.
In 2016 I founded the public arts & social cohesion organisation Common and Kind, harnessing the arts to foster collaboration between communities and individuals across the UK and worldwide. I have written, produced and released two large-scale singles and designed and delivered five spectacular collaborative concerts in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021, each featuring a choir of 400 and an array of leading solo artists from across the musical spectrum, connected to collaborative partnership workshops between schools, adults, asylum seeker & refugee groups.
The work of Common and Kind lies at the heart of my research exploring the implications of language, particularly perceptions of genre, upon engagement with music and, by consequence, on wider society. I am exploring the contemporary situation, including perceived musical and societal distinctions in Yorkshire and the UK, through a critical historical lens, drawing together social and musical tensions and emancipations in the early twentieth century, those reading ‘between the lines’ such as Pleasants and Mellers, musical utopianism in the works of Ernst Bloch and the Frankfurt School, notions of taste and judgement in and after Kant, and the consistently captivating debate concerning the potential of music, visceral and cerebral, solitary and shared, to be a benign agent of change.
- critical musicology
- public realm
- aesthetic cosmopolitanism
- 20th/21st Century studies
- MA Vocal Studies - University of York
- BMus - University of Leeds/North Texas