January 2023 Alumni Highlight Article
Richard Williams is a versatile composer skilled in a wide spectrum of genres and moods from epic orchestral to touching piano to fast-paced EDM. While earning his bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University, he won two Student Emmys at the College TV Awards for his film scores to BYU’s animations. Following his education, he went on to record book-soundtrack music for Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy novel “The Way of Kings.” Richard is a founding member of the cinematic pop band TREN, whose numerous projects include music for Tencent’s PUBG MOBILE video game and author Sariah Wilson’s novel “Moonstruck.” Williams recently returned from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, Awards Show on Nov 16th 2022, as he was nominated in the New/Emerging Composer category.
His latest work is his debut album Hollywood Christmas that revisits the world of timeless Christmas big band jazz and orchestral music in the style of musical legends such as Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé, and The Carpenters.
Richard Williams began his music endeavors with piano lessons early on. He soon started to experiment with different kinds of instruments. In sixth grade, he started to compose, but it was only after his discovery of new music-composing software after returning home from a mission in 07, that he leapt into music composition. "I would go to the BYU Library on the fourth floor, as there they had a couple Macbook computers in the back with Logic, a music development software platform. I stayed there for hours and hours working on projects for years because I didn’t have my own.” Williams then tried to get into the School of Music four times. In 2009, he was finally admitted. He started in the Commercial Music program his fifth year at BYU while also majoring in Japanese.
While at BYU, Williams won two Student Emmys for his compositions in BYU animation projects. The first Emmy was in 2010 for the BYU animation called “Mashed,” and the other in 2014, his last year at BYU, called “Chasm.” He also composed for the various ensembles in the School of Music such as the BYU Philharmonic, the Symphonic Band, and Women’s Chorus.
I enjoyed BYU. I felt like it was a very safe place and it allowed me to focus on my music.
Williams is excited to announce the release of his debut album Hollywood Christmas in which he composed, arranged, conducted, and produced. "In 2017, I went to Chris Walden's masterclass, who writes for Michael Bublé and Josh Groban, and recorded one of my original songs that I wrote years ago. After, I realized that I wanted to come back and write a Michael Bublé-level album, so I did.”
The thirteen-track album took Williams two full years to write and is a blend of mainstream jazz. Nine of the tracks were recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, with some of the best players in the world including Wayne Bergeron and Eric Marienthal. The other tracks were then recorded in Budapest, Hungary. "A third of the album is just the band, a third is just the orchestra, and the last third is a blend of both” says Williams.
Williams referred to "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" as being one of his favorite tracks on the album because "it pulls out all the stops with all the instruments, including the band, orchestra, and backup singers. I wanted to say that I practically used the whole gauntlet of singers, and woodwinds and strings and brass. That was my goal."
When asked what he has learned from his years of studying music, Williams responded, “I have learned that God answers your prayers when you are on the move. I think similarly with music, you have to be moving, you have to be creating, you have to be showing the world that you are good, because there is so much talent out there, and there is so much noise. It is important to stand out.”
For more information on Richard, visit his website