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Dr. Nancy Williams has created an innovative and dynamic freelance career as a musician, composer, educator, and leadership coach. Her holistic approach to music is on the cutting edge and her eclectic skill set applies to a wide range of interests.
She has performed with such groups as the San Diego Ballet and South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, various chamber ensembles, and as an international soloist. As a jazz artist, she’s worked with The Four Tops and The Temptations, while her compositions include commissions by Balinese Gamelan Raga Garnita, Sioux Falls Municipal Band, and Larkspur Reed Trio. Williams has served on the faculty of Northwestern, Dordt, and Chadron State colleges, and her book Woodwind Improvisatory Techniques of the Classical Era: A Pedagogy Method was published in 2021 to rave reviews. Since receiving a Doctor of Arts in Clarinet Performance with a Musicology Secondary from the University of Northern Colorado, Williams has been based out of Rapid City, SD, where she serves as state chair for the International Clarinet Association and lives with her husband and five cats.
Available Performance Programs
British Art Song for Clarinet and Voice
Lecture Recital or Recital
Based on the research from her dissertation on the topic, Dr. Williams collaborates with Anne Jennifer Nash, soprano, on the history and development of British art song and clarinet as pastoral signifier. Williams focuses on the historical and cultural context of British song and its influence in instrumental music while connecting the audience to the personal significance of the pastoral theme in times of healing.
Songs for a Winter's Night
Dr. Williams collaborates with Anne Jennifer Nash, soprano, to uplift audiences during the winter months with song and storytelling. This recital is the combination of art and popular song with a fireside chat feel that will warm the hearts of audiences young and old alike.
Music for Clarinet and Piano by Women Composers
Before 2020, finding scores for past compositions by women for clarinet proved challenging. Research during the pandemic resulted in the collecting and marketing of women’s music for a variety of mediums, including clarinet and piano. Dr. Williams enjoys celebrating this music with pianist Anne Breeden and exposing audiences to the extraordinary women who wrote these well-crafted pieces. Selections include compositions by the first-known professional woman clarinetist and the first composition by a woman to be selected for the Paris Conservatory competition, as well as Williams’s original composition “Unequivocal.” Several selections of this recital repertoire were selected to be performed by Dr. Williams at the 2023 International Music by Women Festival. “Unequivocal” had its international premiere there, performed by festival musicians.
Potpourri Repertoire for Clarinet and Piano
Dr. Williams and Anne Breeden draw inspiration from the above recital options as well as world music and the canon of traditional literature (Debussy, Brahms, Copland, Poulenc, for example) to create a unique, tailored experience for your specific audience.
Improvisational Techniques in C. Stamitz’s Clarinet Concerto in Bb
Dr. Williams discusses the four categories of improvisational techniques practiced by woodwind performers during the Classical era and demonstrates them on the Stamitz concerto. This could be combined with a masterclass on the topic.
Thanks again for such a wonderful residency at Wayne State College! I thoroughly enjoyed your sessions, and learned several things [that]will have a lasting impact on my own teaching and performing. I thought the recital program was very engaging and meaningful. I especially enjoyed your beautiful resonant tone, which combined with your polished technique and expert musicianship, really brought life to these wonderful works. In the days following the event, many students have expressed how much they enjoyed the program and especially your own composition. One of my flute students stated in a lesson yesterday, “…I’m not even a clarinet player and I was totally blown away by that performance! It was absolutely amazing!.” I also heard a lot of positive feedback from folks who watched via the livestream, many saying “…Wow, I wish I could have been there to experience that in-person. She was terrific!.” - Karl Kolbeck, Professor of Woodwinds, Wayne State College
Dr. Williams’ passion for various styles of clarinet-based music and for promoting the expansion and awareness of clarinet repertoire comes through not only in her writing (her dissertation offers high-level performative suggestions on numerous twentieth-century styles ranging from the neo-tonal to atonal and everything in between), but also in her performance. Her live performance of Edgard Varèse’s Intégrales is one of the best I’d ever heard. - Michael Oravitz, Associate Professor of Music Theory, University of Northern Colorado School of Music