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. My research, working with orginal archive material, examines the impact of Wilfrid Mellers on music education. Mellers’ approach, both as an educator and as author of twenty-eight books spanning an exceptional range of subjects and genres ranging from Couperin, Bach and Beethoven to Poulenc, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and popular female singers, is of particular interest at a time when music education in schools and universities faces signifcant and increasing challenges.
I returned to academia and to my alma mater at Leeds following a career as a performing and recording artist including a formative early stint in France with Emmanuelle Haim and many baroque, contemporary and jazz specialists followed by a decade freelancing across the UK and Europe, as a soloist, ensemble and session singer, also teaching and conducting extensively, from chamber choirs to choral societies and massed choirs, and teaching undergraduates at the University of Southampton and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
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 and my own commitment to creating and interpreting an ‘amphibious’ range of musical styles and genres lies at the heart of my research which explores the impact of Wilfrid Mellers, appointed founding Professor of Music at the University of York in 1964. Having been drawn to York previously, where I was the recipient of the Dixon Scholarship for the MA in Vocal Studies, in large part due to the inspiration of Mellers, it is both a thrill and a significant honour to have access to his personal archives in the Borthwick Institute, where I am being superbly assisted by Dr Nicholas Melia.
- Wilfrid Mellers
- public realm
- aesthetic cosmopolitanism
- 20th/21st Century studies
- MA Vocal Studies - University of York
- BMus - University of Leeds/North Texas