Dr Mike Williams

Convenor (Music)
Senior Lecturer in Composition and Electroacoustic Music
Blues Awards Representative

Qualifications: MMus PhD Melb MCM

School of Arts


About Mike

Michael Williams is a well-known figure in New Zealand composition. He has received commissions from most of the country's major musical institutions including the NZSO, NBR New Zealand Opera and Chamber Music New Zealand and his music is regularly broadcast on Radio New Zealand Concert. He has recorded a number of works through the Atoll label.

His music covers a wide range of genres including chamber music, orchestral, concerti and opera.

Polystylistic in his approach to composition, many influences can be heard in his music from Gregorian chant to the use of pitch class sets.

Michael maintains an interest in the digital manipulation of acoustic instruments which is evident in a number of his works.

His 1st Symphony Letters from the Front written for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign in WWI and commissioned by the NZSO was premiered in duel concerts by the NZSO and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Opera House to critical acclaim.

In 2013 Michael’s opera The Juniper Passion, based on the battle for Monte Cassino in WWII was premiered at the amphitheatre in Cassino Italy followed by performances in Rome and Nemi. This was the first ever New Zealand opera to be performed in Italy. The Juniper Passion captured the hearts of the Italian pubic.

His Chamber Opera The Prodigal Child has enjoyed great success with productions in Taranaki, Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton and is now available on CD.

Piercing the Vault for oboe and orchestra was commissioned by the NZSO in 2005 and has toured the country twice since.

His Triple Concerto which was a commission from the Opus Chamber Orchestra with the New Zealand Chamber Soloists was premiered in September 2008.

His work is in demand internationally including Vietnam, Italy and Ireland.

Piercing the Vault was recently performed in Vietnam with the HBSO under the baton of Colin Metters who is director of conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Current projects include a piece for electric violin and orchestra with renown violinist Jenny Bae and a string quartet to be included on a new CD of original quartets from composers around the world including two-time grammy award winner Michael Doherty, Jia Daqun, Parum Vir and Martin Lodge.

He is co-founder and artistic director of the University of Waikato contemporary performance ensemble 'Okta'

Michael teaches across a number of areas including composition, orchestration, computer music, aesthetics and harmony and counterpoint.


Composition; orchestration; computer music.

Recent Publications

  • Williams, M. F. (2015). Cohesion and Eclecticism Composition Portfolio: Volume1: The Juniper Passion: Volume 2: Triple Concerto: Volume 3: Achieving cohesion and concinnity within an eclectic/polystylistic framework. (PhD Thesis, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne, Australia).

  • Williams, M. F. (2015). Sympony no. 1: Letters from the front [Symphony for orchestra, soprano solo and narrator (35')]. Performed by New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Michael Fowler Centre and Auckland Town Hall, New Zealand and performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Opera House, Australia: Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA).

  • Williams, M. F., Chiappinelli, M., & Orlandi, B. (2015). Matéria [piece for piano and soprano saxophone]. Open Access version:

  • Williams, M. F., Bae, J., De Santis, L., & Minci, A. (2014). The future is not war (L'avvenire non è la guerra) [piece for soprano, violins, guitar and violoncello]. Cassino, Italy.

View all research publications by Mike Williams

Contact Details

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