Organist CAROL WILLIAMS’ ambition is “to bring the organ to new audiences, and with my performances, make people feel good.”
British born, Williams was raised in a Welsh family with many musical influences. She began private lessons at age five and could read music before she could read the name of the piece. Her formal training started with five years at the Royal Academy of Music, where she specialized in organ performing as a student of David Sanger and obtained the Academy’s prestigious Recital Diploma together with an LRAM (organ) and an LRAM (piano). She was awarded all the major prizes for organ performing and, during her studies, she became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and a Fellow of Trinity College London, plus an Associate of the Royal College of Music. Williams has also studied with Daniel Roth, the Organist at the Church of St. Sulpice, Paris, where the famous Charles-Marie Widor was organist for sixty-three years.
Moving to the U.S., Williams undertook postgraduate study at Yale University under the direction of Professor Thomas Murray, where she was appointed University Chapel Organist and was awarded an Artist Diploma together with the Charles Ives Prize for outstanding achievement. Then to New York City, where she became the Associate Organist at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Long Island’s Garden City and undertook Doctoral study under Professor McNeil Robinson at the Manhattan School of Music, where she received the Helen Cohn award for her DMA degree.
Williams’ performances have taken her all over the world. Popular venues include St. Sulpice and Notre Dame, Paris; Westminster Abbey; St. Paul’s Cathedral; King’s College, Cambridge; Queen’s College, Oxford; Blenheim Palace; Woolsey Hall, Yale University; Memorial Chapel, Harvard University; St. Patrick’s, New York; Washington National Cathedral; and Riverside Church, New York. She has also given numerous concerts in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Monaco, Luxembourg, Holland, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Singapore, China, and Russia.
En route, Carol has been elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM) in recognition of her contribution to music. A regular broadcaster in the U.K. and in America, she has been the guest performer with a number of leading orchestras, including the BBC Concert Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and the Beijing Symphony Orchestra as well as performing the inaugural recitals on a newly-installed Austin organ in Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall. Carol has been interviewed on many radio programs, in which she has highlighted her profound love of the King of Instruments, and she is featured in the national-awareness video Pulling out all the Stops when she was filmed in concert at St. Thomas’ Church in New York’s Fifth Avenue. She was also privileged to take part in the Virgil Fox Memorial Concert held in the fall of 2000 at New York’s Riverside Church, and a recording of the memorable event has been released as a double-CD by Gothic Records.
Carol is also hosting a video series named TourBus, featuring the great and small organs of the world, its music, people, and places. In October of 2001 Dr. Carol Williams was the first woman in the world to be appointed as Civic Organist. She has been the San Diego Civic Organist and Artistic Director of the Spreckels Organ Society in San Diego, California since 2001.
Carol gives a new spin to classical organ concerts with her charismatic humor. International audiences have received Carols’ live performances with a “rock star” enthusiasm.