Howard Williams studied piano with Ronald Smith and violin with Clarence Myerscough, taking Music degrees at Oxford and Liverpool Universities, and attending the Advanced Conducting course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. After joining the English National Opera as repétiteur and then Chorus Master he quickly went on to conduct eleven operas for the ENO, including four new productions and the world première of Iain Hamilton’s Anna Karenina. At the same time he conducted in the opening seasons of Opera Factory in London, firstly the sensational new production of Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy and then Tippett’s The Knot Garden, both televised by Channel 4. His subsequent operatic premières have included his own completion of Bizet’s largest opera, Ivan IV, Brian Howard’s Inner Voices, David Ward’s The Snow Queen, Bernard Stevens’ The Shadow of the Glenand the first recording of Frank Bridge’s The Christmas Rose. He has now conducted more than seventy operas.
Howard has conducted the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic and BBC Symphony, as well as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National, Bournemouth Symphony and Sinfonietta, English Chamber Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. He has conducted at the BBC Proms and at the Edinburgh, Leeds, Bath and Brighton Festivals, as at festivals in Budapest, Hong Kong, and throughout France and Spain. In Europe Howard has appeared in the concert seasons of the Austrian Radio Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Swedish Radio Orchestra, Belgian Radio Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, Slovak Philharmonic, Hungarian National Philharmonic, Hungarian Radio Orchestra, Budapest Philharmonic, Orchestre Nationale de Lyon, Orchestre de Strasbourg, Orchestre Symphonique de Montpellier, Orchestre de Picardie, RTE Symphony Orchestra, Dublin, Portuguese National Symphony Orchestra, and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga.
With the English Bach Festival Baroque Orchestra he has conducted many productions at Covent Garden, from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo to Handel’s Oreste, as well as Rossini’s Le Siège de Corinthe with historical instruments. His work in the theatre has also included appearances with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, the Dutch National Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theatre and Hamburg Ballet.
Following his appointment in 1989 as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Pécs Symphony Orchestra in Hungary, now the Pannon Philharmonic, Howard devoted a significant amount of his time to working with the leading symphony orchestras in that country. For his services to new Hungarian music he has been the recipient of an Artisjus award, and in 1997 was honoured with the Bartók medal for services to Hungarian music abroad.
On leaving Pécs in 2000, Howard was created Permanent Guest Conductor by the orchestra. In the same year he was appointed to the new post of Head of Conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. The subsequent six years at the RWCMD enabled Howard to explore and develop his attitude to the training of conductors and student orchestras. Howard became Musical Director of the Sinfonia of Cambridge in 2013. He is also now a professor of Conducting at the Royal College of Music in London.
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